Sunday, July 10, 2011

The map is done for level 1, and I absolutely love it… although I can’t claim credit for the design. I was more than inspired by this map; both the circular layout and the artistic technique in drafting it were things I emulated. You should check out Dyson’s blog- he’s brilliant. His work hits the exact sweet spot for me in evocative, helpful and clear design. I plan to cop his style for my future maps, and to limit the use of computer-generated designs as much as possible. The blocky designs have an old-school charm, but maps like this one are 5x better in all respects, to my mind.

Working from his original design, I cut down the number of crossovers from 4 to 3, cut down the total number of rooms, and added the natural cavern that includes a waterfall into the central pit. The heroes immediately have any number of choices in direction, and they can move around the thing with quite a bit of freedom.

Four immediate access points are in the northwest corner and in the west; these are both connections to rival dwarf mining clans. Both clans have established portcullises as a ‘fence’ between the dungeon complex (as unclaimed territory) and their mine complexes (as per official charters granted by the Council of Beldin Mere). Both clans clearly mark their borders, have magically-sealed portcullises, and leave guardians as well. There are several ways to get to the next lower level (an entrance at the bottom of the central pit, and the stairs on the eastern end are two ways), although others surely exist… eventually.

My group of heroes will enter through the temple complex at the far eastern end. This temple rests directly beneath the Inn of the 99 Ears, and Trom Trollslayer has petitioned for and been granted a ‘special writ’ granting him property rights to all land directly beneath the confines of his inn. He therefore claims the temple itself as his (by property right), and wants to explore further down, to see what else may be his by right. Further, he wants to live vicariously through a group of young explorers; his wife would never allow him to undertake such reckless activity as dungeon crawling, but he craves the excitement of the adventuring life, and he’s hoping that by acting as the brains behind a young team, he can relive his glory days. He’s intentionally picked young, inexperienced but relatively trustworthy and honest folk for his fellowship, and expects to be fair with them; he sees them eventually becoming part of his extended family, but also knows that the life can be dangerous, and that it’s quite likely some (or all) will not survive long.