Ramblin Man Part Deux: Game Edition


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Scarab Sages

I enjoyed doing the Temple of Orcus so much, I started looking at other classic D&D entities. I settled on Tiamat.

The temple I did as a standard cruciform layout, with the large central area containing a mosaic of the dragon queen (although I used a stylized hydra image as the model) rising from the water. The main dais and side chapel each have statues of Tiamat (from a token that I found on Pinterest of all places).

And, just to add a bit more flavor to the map, I added an attached Abbey of the Five Fists. Evil, dragon-worshipping monks are cool.

The underground contains another chapel, crypts, a treasury (with tunnels connecting to dragon lairs), and a storage area for the abbey’s kitchen.

Scarab Sages

I’ve been watching a lot of mummy movies over the past week, and the most recent two put an idea in my head. Universal’s The Mummy’s Ghost and The Mummy’s Curse respectively end and begin with the mummy Kharis (played by the great Lon Chaney Jr.) in a sunken swamp. Then I remembered the old Van Richten’s Guide to the Ancient Dead, and the idea of bog mummies.

So, the world I created to keep track of my maps has a major villain known as The Hag Queen. Her realm is primarily on a large island, part swamp, part forested hills. The idea I had was for her very own Ringwraith type servants - The Bog Hunters (not sure about that name). The Hag Queen mummified these dudes in a bog permeated with necromantic energies. I would make them more powerful than a typical mummy, but not so much as a Mummy Lord.

Scarab Sages

One of my preferred methods for coming up with names of places is to pull from movies I like. So, for something with a Middle East flare, I tend to pull from the old Harryhausen Sinbad movies. For something with a more Slavic flare, I’ve found that Clancy Brown characters are a surprisingly interesting source, along with The Hunt for Red October.

Scarab Sages

I didn’t really like the name Bog Hunters for the Hag Queen minions I mentioned the other day. So I’ve been periodically considering it, and think I came up with a better name, inspired by the Cauldron Born from the Chronicles of Prydain.

For now I’ll settle on either the Fen Born or Mire Born. I’m liking the later a bit better. As previously mentioned, they’d be mummies. Probably resistant to fire, due to the circumstances of their creation. And a bit more intelligent. Maybe even with a few spell like abilities, just to bump up their challenge rating a bit further.

Scarab Sages

The conversation at breakfast this morning steered towards the Erie Canal, then the Panama Canal. That got me thinking.

Three Kindreds Channel - when the world was younger, the three greatest civilizations were the giants, elves, and dwarves. In a time of uneasy peace, the three came together, pooling all their knowledge and skill to achieve the greatest work ever seen - The Great Channel. A canal, delved across nearly 100 miles of land, to link a great inland sea with the wider ocean beyond.

Nearly as soon as the channel was completed, the fragile peace shattered. The three peoples battled over who was most responsible for this great work, as well as who would control it. Over the long centuries since, wars have been fought over and around the channel. More often, the elves and dwarves have allied together to control the canal and its vital passage for ships to the inland sea.

Scarab Sages

Something put the old Roman god Janus in my head the other day, so I did a map for a Temple of Duality. As with several other recent maps, I had a mosaic in the floor, and was lucky enough to find a kind of stylized Janus symbol (the two faces joined) to use as a basis.

All in all, I’m pleased with the way it came out. I’m also happy I didn’t overdue it on the theme of “two”.

Scarab Sages

I just recently watched Midnight Mass on Netflix. Pretty solid little show. I think my favorite sequence was when the old priest got lost in the sandstorm, discovered the ancient ruins uncovered by the storm, and encountered the “Angel”. Those ruins were really creepy awesome, and now I want to do a map of some desert ruins.

Plus, that version of a vampire was really cool looking.

Scarab Sages

The Unholy Desert Ruins map went pretty quickly, though I’m not 100% satisfied with it. I might revisit it one day.

Scarab Sages

I thought I was done with my Halloween maps for this year, but now I’m not so sure. After watching Dreams in the Witch House last night, I might be in the mood to develop something new. Maybe The Warlock Manor.

Scarab Sages

For some reason, a random city name popped into my head - Seven Hills. I might make that my next map. It’d talk a few days, maybe, this moving into November before I posted it. I’m trying to spread my work about a bit more.

Scarab Sages

For the city I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve been considering making it a Waterdeep sized place. Which, after doing a bit of research, would be REALLY big.

The default city map size is 1000 x 800 feet, or about 800,000 sq ft. If I were to make about the size of Waterdeep, it would be roughly 160,000,000 sq ft.


The original 1E Waterdeep was huge, my good zombie. I used the poster maps from the City System boxed set to wallpaper one wall of my room in high school. I'd come up with adventures while staring at the wall, quite literally.

Scarab Sages

I’ve got the basic layout of this giant city: geographical features, walls, major roads.

I’ve also put in 34 named locations. That’s something I’ve taken to doing early on whenever I do a city map. After I’ve got all the locations set, named and numbered, I can fill in the remaining city with generic buildings and such.

I may not finish this city, however. At least, not at the moment. I’m using a simple map style, which I reserve for big maps. These days, though, even maps of around 5000x4800 are giving me trouble to open and use. I probably need a new computer.

Scarab Sages

So, ultimately, I might just add a couple dozen more locations and leave it alone for awhile.

Besides, I’ve already got an idea for a newer, smaller, city/fortress combo map.

Scarab Sages

I was rethinking the giant city map, and think I may have found a way around it being so big and screwing up my computer (without buying a new computer).

I might try and cut the city into its various districts, and just do a map of each one of those. It would involve a lot of extra work, but could serve as a roadmap (so to speak) for how to handle really big maps like this in the future.

Scarab Sages

I was perusing my copy of the 5E book Monsters of the Multiverse, and came across my new favorite troll - The Dire Troll. These are Huge cannibal trolls with multiple arms, eyes, etc. growing from their bodies. The picture alone is kick ass, and I kind of really hope they’ve got a mini of it somewhere (although it would probably be unpainted).

Scarab Sages

Some time ago, I had come up with a name for a geographical feature - The Plains of Pel Morn. More recently, I decided to add the Plains’ namesake - the Fortress City of Pel Morn.

So that city was my most recent map, completed today. I based it off the real world Carcassone in France. I think the elevations could have been done a bit better, but for the most part it came out well.

One part of the city I’m particularly proud of was The Tourney Field. I can’t recall ever putting a jousting field in a map before. I made sure to include another large field nearby, where visiting knights could camp.

Scarab Sages

I’ve been working on a new revision to an old map for the last few days. This one is the hive of super-intelligent insects who can control swarms. I had been wanting to revisit it for awhile, and finally found the time to do so.

For this new version, I’m using both ant colonies and termite mounds as inspiration. So far, I’ve only completed the surface levels. Each level gets smaller as it goes up, until levels five and higher kind of stay the same. There’s a central chimney to connect all the levels, as well as four vertical surface conduits, that spiral as they go up.

Next up, I’ll get to the lower levels, the main nest. That might be later today, or maybe tomorrow.

Scarab Sages

Check that - I’ve completed all the main tunnels and rooms of the surface levels. I maybe go back and add some other chambers to each level later on.

And I’ll wait until everything is done before posting the images on my Facebook page.

Scarab Sages

Done with the hive map for now. It came out much better than the original version. I may go back at a later date and just add more rooms and tunnels. Make it a truly extensive warren.

Scarab Sages

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I think I’ve finally settled on a path forward for my Waterdeep sized city map. The problem was the larger the map, the more likely it’ll freeze up as you add stuff. Especially if you’re using the street mapping tool, which allows you to drag along a street and drop a row of buildings.

Instead, I’ve taken a cue from the old Waterdeep map in the City of Splendors boxed set. On that map, they basically drew in huge “city blocks” of a uniform, bright color (kind of an off-white), then traced the individual buildings over that in black. I can’t do the tracing of buildings very easily or quickly, but I was able to do my own version of city blocks.

So far, this is working well. I’ve got a large portion of one district done. My only worry is that even this method will cause the program to freeze up as I fill in more. I might need a separate file for each city district.

Scarab Sages

As mentioned elsewhere, a new show on Netflix has given me some really cool new map ideas. Might not get to them any time soon, though. I’m really into this big ass city map now. It’s going better than I’d have thought it would.

Scarab Sages

I finally finished adding all the “city blocks” to my Waterdeep-sized city map. I did each one by hand, so it was a lot of work. Still, it came out very well, I think. I’ve still got some work to do on the map - mostly filling in buildings on the hills of the city. After that, I’ll make up a location list, then post pictures of everything to my FB page.

Scarab Sages

After I’m done with all that, I’ll go back to finishing a TV series I started watching for some map ideas. It’s already given me a few.

Scarab Sages

I finished my big city a few days ago. The whole thing turned out so well, I decided to revisit an older map and make a larger version of it.

This new map will be even larger than my previous big city. That first was 18000x14400. This new, revised city is 20,000x16,000. It’s one that was inspired by Constantinople.

Scarab Sages

I watched the directors cut of Stargate last night. If there never was a Stargate RPG, there should have been.

Scarab Sages

The new map is coming along well. I’ve got most of the names locations (minus a few royal tombs). As with the previous version of this map, I’m taking inspiration from Constantinople (not Istanbul).

Scarab Sages

I might take a break from my current big city map to do something inspired by the Serpent Mound in Ohio. Except mine wouldn’t be a serpent. Maybe a scorpion, or a wolf, or something. As long as I can get some stylized drawing to use as an outline.

Scarab Sages

Cool. I guess I’m a pretty good customer for Profantasy. I got an email offer for a discounted pre-release Symbol Set 6. I don’t think I’m going to take them up on it. From what I’ve seen, it looks cool, but maybe not something I want.

Scarab Sages

Took a break from the latest big city map I’ve been working on to do something I thought of while watching that Ancieny Apocalypse show. It’s a map inspired by the Serpent Mound in Ohio.

Mine is The Stag Mound. Found a stylized stag head to use as a template, although I had to break it up into more separate pieces in order to get the bevel working properly. Kept it simple - the mound itself, a central altar, and surrounding woods.

It came out well. And was done rather quickly. I may do more like it in the future, just with different animals.

Scarab Sages

I liked the way my Stag Mound map turned out so much, I decided to do another, similar map. This one was a bit more mythological - The Unicorn Mound.

I basically reused the Stag Mound map (so I already had the custom settings), and just replaced the stylized stag image with a stylized unicorn image. As a bonus, I didn’t have to redraw all the surrounding trees.

Scarab Sages

I map keep on with this as a whole set of themed maps. Different animals/mythological creatures, in different locations.

Scarab Sages

The last few weeks (since about 23 November), I’d been working on a revision to an older map. I started it after my giant, Waterdeep sized city map had turned out rather well. Anyway, this revision was even bigger - 20,000x16,000. Again, it turned out pretty okay. It was for a city based on Constantinople.

Scarab Sages

And just today, I revisited my “mound” series. This latest was a bit different from the first two. Instead of a temperate, wooded area, I placed it in a dry, desert/hill region. And I went with a monster appropriate to that environment. So now I have a Behir Mound map.

Scarab Sages

Started working on a map for a dwarven fortress, but didn’t really like the way it was coming out. I’ve got to give it more thought.

In the interim, I did a map showing the area around the fortress. There was a secondary fortress a few miles away, with the two connected by a wall and road. South of all that was the scattered settlement of human barbarians. They work with the dwarves.

The whole area is on the south shore and east end of a canal built by an ancient, long gone civilization. The canal cuts through an isthmus, 4-miles wide and about 100(ish) miles long. In the old days, giants use to cross this isthmus from the north to raid. The other end of the canal once hosted an elven fortress (since destroyed).

Scarab Sages

I had a weird idea last night - elves who don’t like to kill people, so they created an inescapable demi-plane where they banish the really bad guys. Kind of like the Phantom Zone from DC.

You could have a kind of Escape from New York style adventure, where the heroes are sent in to find someone who has certain knowledge. Once inside, they have to navigate the civilization that’s developed therein.

Scarab Sages

Meanwhile, I’ve been working on another city map, but it’s been very slow going. Might be just a tad burned out. Or…other things.

Anyway, this city is inspired by Kathmandu. I’ve been fascinated by that city for a long time. Ever since I picked up the 80s collected version of the Paul Kirk Manhunter story by Goodwin and Simonson. Epic f$&!ing story.

So far, my version has 24 named locations. They’re mostly temples/shrines, monasteries, gardens, and religious-themed courtyards. With one royal palace and a fort thrown in for good measure.

Scarab Sages

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I saw a meme on FB showing the Great Lakes. It inspired me. I thought the lakes would make great islands. So I developed a map called The Great Islands. It was quick and easy, but fun.

Scarab Sages

I finally finished the map for my Kathmandu-inspired city. I’ll try to make that the last city map for awhile.

I had a few ideas for other maps, including a kind of space station style map built by gnomes. Something Spelljammer-ish.

Scarab Sages

In the mean time, I added another local name to the list I keep for potential map location names. This one was a street called Erin Wood. I liked the sound of it as one word.

So I added an “A” onto the front, and “S” between the two, then put them together - Aerinswood. The way I see it, there was once a woodsman and his family living on the edge of the wood. Bandits took up residence among the trees, and killed the woodsman and his family. All except a young boy, that is.

The boy eventually became a ranger, went back to the woods, cleared it of bandits, then kept it that way until his death. Since then, the animals do it themselves, perhaps guided by his spirit.

Scarab Sages

Heh. My maps were system neutral before it was cool.

Scarab Sages

I’ve been rewatching the JLA and JLA Unlimited series recently. It got me thinking it’d be a cool idea to have a group of heroes with access to a spelljammer style ship and maybe some kind of space station or asteroid headquarters. It would make it easier to expand their adventuring into other lands on their homeworld.

Scarab Sages

With the implosion of WotC, I guess I’m finally and truly done being an active gamer. Although, to be honest, I wasn’t very active. The 5E game I was a part of dried up months ago. And I currently don’t see myself ever buying more Paizo products.

I’ll probably keep making my maps, though. I don’t need anyone’s system to do that.

Scarab Sages

And it just hit me……maybe a “Ruined Wizards’ Tower” map is called for. One that’s on some coastline…..

Scarab Sages

Rewatching the animated Justice League Unlimited, there’s an episode where a few members end up in Skartaris (from The Warlord comics). It got me thinking about a map for a Hollow Earth style setting. I think it would be an interesting challenge.

Scarab Sages

It took a few days for me to get around to it, but today I started and finished a Ruined Wizard Tower map. The surface consists of a few walls, the floor (with grass growing in at the edges), and stairs going down. Then there’s two lower levels. Simple and sweet.

Oddly enough, I was inspired to locate it on a cliff overlooking the sea…..

Scarab Sages

I’ve been bored and rewatching the Harry Potter movies at night. Last night was Chamber of Secrets, and it got me in mind of doing a castle map. Which is good, since I had seen a subdivision name that would make a cool castle name.

So I might work on that as my next map.

Scarab Sages

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I was watching the Tom Hanks movie Volunteers last night, wherein his character is compelled to join the Peace Corps. It got me thinking….

A campaign setting where elves and dwarves are the main civilizations, and they set up a similar group to visit and help the still primitive races. That could be interesting.

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