Map Commission: The Borellus Connection

After doing the front and back cover maps for the Fall of Delta Green, I was happy to get back to this awesome game for “The Borellus Connection” campaign by Gareth Hanrahan (with Ken Hite). It’s available now from Pelgrane Press as a pre-order for the physical book (you get the finished pdf right away).

Combining the Cthulhu Mythos of Delta Green with “French Connection” style crime thrillers, the campaign takes you in a drug-fueled nightmare from the haunted jungles of Laos and Vietnam via the underworld of Marseille to (un-)familiar streets of Baltimore and beyond. Just reading it makes me want to run a GUMSHOE-style game again!

I’ve created several maps for this book, from the big overview maps showing the flow of the heroin trade around the world, to smaller locations within the individual adventures.

For some I was able to re-use the base world maps I had created for the FoDG rulebook, for others I set up a new style in Campaign Cartographer 3+, reproducing military tactical maps of the era. This style is available as part of the Cartographer’s Annual Vol 16 now.

I highly recommend The Borellus Connection as another excellent role-playing campaign from Pelgrane Press, Gareth Hanrahan and Kenneth Hite.

Map Commission: Darkonia, Borania and the Ashera Nebula

In my line fo work it’s always interesting and a little surprising if a customer contact doesn’t come via the web or social media, but through more traditional channels. A while ago the regional newspaper ran an interview with me, and shortly thereafter local author Samuel Sommer approached me to create some maps for his books.

He had some pretty good drafts for the maps, a style was quickly chosen and so I got to do two small maps of the fantasy realms of Darkonia and Borania. It’s always a pleasure using Pär Lindström’s Fantasy Worlds style, so I was happy when Matthias chose that style, and we soon came to a result we were both pleased with.

A little later he came back with the commission for a third map, this time for a science fiction novel. Cosmographer 3 has a number of beautiful styles, and I am very fond of its large-scale Galactic map style, which I got to use here, for the Ashera Star Nebula.

Map Commission: Irth

The World of Irth
Detail – the Nation of Ryld

Here is another map commission I did recently: The southern continent of the world of Irth. It’s the setting for a private tabletop role-playing game and had only a few specifications. It was to be a continent on the southern hemisphere of a world, roughly similar in size to Australia, with a land-bridge to a polar continent.

I fired up Fractal Terrains 3, fiddled the settings and cycled through random worlds until I found something that roughly matched the requirements. I then went in and edited the world to add the land bridge and smooth out some wrinkles.

My customer was very happy with the initial layout and wanted to keep the whole world for future development. No problem with that and so I went ahead and took the desired continent out of FT3 into Campaign Cartographer 3+. I used the Mike Schley overland style to flesh it out somewhat, but the general brief was to only show the nation of Ryld and leave the rest relatively blank to be fleshed out by the owner. The ocean labels are basically just placeholders for future “real” names.

As a little extra I included the FT3 world in the map in the final version of the map to show the location of the continent in relation to the rest of the world.

The FT3 world map

Map Commission: Studio Draconis

Zodiac Legion Map

Creating maps for computer games usually pose their own challenges, especially if they must serve tactical or strategic gameplay purposes. In this commission for the game Zodiac Legion by Studio Draconis, the brief was to create about a hundred distinct regions that fan out in four major areas from a central hub.

Regions needed be clearly associated with a terrain as well, and the terrain types were to be fairly evenly spread across the map.

While those conditions make it hard to create a “realistic” looking map in actual geographical terms, the checkerboard effect of terrains still makes for a pleasing variety on the map.

For this map I used the Herwin Wielink overland style in Campaign Cartographer 3+. The shown result is completely done within CC3+, no Photoshop post production involved.

Map Commission: High Magic & Low Cunning

Cave map for the first epic-tier battle against the Orc Lord's minions.

Cave map for the first epic-tier battle against the Orc Lord’s minions [Copyright 2016: Pelgrane Press].

One of my largest commission in recent years was a series of maps for Pelgrane Press’ 13th Age role-playing game. Their Battle Scenes line provides ready-to-play encounters tied to the iconic powers of the Dragon Empire setting, and for the first issue “High Magic & Low Cunning” I created maps for the Orc Lord, Prince of Thieves and High Druid encounters.

You can grab sneak previews of “Rafting Razoredge Gorge”, the three adventurer-tier Orc Lord encounters and maps from these places on the web:

1. The introduction and Battle 1: Catch of the Day are available from Pelgrane Press directly.
2. Battle 2: Zip-Lines and Wardrums can be download from Six Feats Under.
3. EnWorld has Battle 3: Razordedge Orc Camp

The maps are included in black and white in the book and as hi-res pdfs with the download, but they are also available separately in gorgeous color print in the “Map Folio” for High Magic & Low Cunning.

PrinceOfShadows

Where does this stone door in the hillside lead? One thing is certain: It is connected to the Prince of Shadows [Copyright 2016: Pelgrane Press].

And now Pelgrane is working on the second installment in the series: The Crown Commands. I am providing maps for the Lich King series of encounters.

Map Commission: Realms of Alamaze

Road to AlamazeRecently I’ve revisited a very old commission of mine, one of my very first in fact. Back then I produced several maps for a series of PbEM games by Rich McDowell, author of Alamaze. Rick needed a map for a newer game/scenario done, and I was happy to break out Mike Schley’s overland style for CC3+ to give the game board a new treatment.

Click the map image for a larger version of the PbeM game map for Road to Alamaze – Centauria. You can find more information on the game here.

The square grid of the game board necessitates a block-ish design and it’s fun to still try to give it a natural feeling. For example the original draft did not include any rivers (as they have no game effect), but the landscape feels much more real with some included. I’m very happy with how the map turned out, and hope the players will have many hours of PbeM fun with it.

Battlemap: Temple of the Sea

Here is another battle map from our 13th Age game: The Temple of the Sea.

Sea Temple

Our heroes traced a series of out of control temple guardians back to the new temple of Poseidon at the docks in Drakkenhall. With the sea rolling in and out of the temple, up to their bellies in the surf (or higher in the case of the gnome), they faced the temple’s high priestess, a sahuagin necromancer and his 4 zombie servants, plus the animated statue of Poseidon in an epic showdown.

Click on the map to load the full-size version of the image, ready for A1 printing at 150dpi.

The “Brocken”

Here’s a little tidbit from our current rpg campaign (Gumshoe – Ashen Stars).

After an unfortunate series of events around the Acheron Translight Snarl our crew’s trusty Runner-class ship, the “Jolly Jumper” is no more. While narrowly escaping from the D’Jellar anomaly a pilot error resulted in a fatally flawed exit vector from the snarled translight corridor. The lasers barely managed to escape in the ship’s shuttle and had to watch their beloved home break up into a billion pieces.

But as the saying goes, “true lasers are never long without a ship” and an opportunity presented itself, involving a Bleed-wide warrant, a high-level Combine operative, an anti-piracy operation, a staged prison escape and a conveniently-parked Hauler-class starship.

Brocken - Hauler-class vessel
So the laser crew finds itself in the possession of the “Brocken”. A bit worn, the paint scratched in many places, it is still a translight-worthy laser vessel which holds the promise of a better future.

Haulers are the less-than-glamorous, slow and sturdy workhorses of the Bleed nowadays. Designed to carry a maximum of cargo, they provide the surviving worlds of the Bleed with much-needed resources that are not locally available. The image shows the main deck with its six massive cargo bays, the cut-down engine room and the richly furnished “boardroom” which is used to conduct business meetings. The full deck plans for this ship-class are found in the “Accretion Disc” companion for Ashen Stars and were drawn by yours truly with the Cosmographer 3 add-on to CC3.

Iron Dragon Rail Station

Chicago Iron Dragon StationFor an upcoming Deadlands: Reloaded game I mapped a fictional railway station, loosely modeled on a historical one built in 1881 (and later replaced by Chicago’s famous Union Station). The map can be used for other quasi-historical games (e.g. any Cthulhu or Pulp-genre game) where a medium-sized railway station is needed.

I first created a Baedeker-style floorplan of the station, using Campaign Cartographer 3 and its “1930s Travel Guide” style from the Annual Vol 5. It is fairly simple and painless to print, so it makes a great reference map. You can download the CC3 version of the map.

Then I went ahead and from the entrance hall section created a detailed battle mat with (Dungeon Designer 3 and Symbol Set 2) for use with miniatures.
Chicago Iron Dragon Rail Station Battle Mat

The battle mat prints on A1 size paper and you can download it here in a variety of formats: