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    • CommentAuthorTonnichiwa
    • CommentTimeJul 25th 2017
     
    Hello everyone. This is my entry into the monthly light challenge over at the Cartographer's Guild, complete with backstory. It is still a work in progress but I hope you enjoy it anyway...

    Duke Stephan stood in his courtyard and addressed his men. They had been assembled to be given another motivational speech about how they must be vigilant against the horrors that assaulted the castle daily. It had been five years since the attacks began. Large monsters began attacking the different towns on his islands, slaying many of the villagers and carrying away all of the food and animals. Over the years the attacks just increased until there were no towns left except for his fortified castle. Many of the peasants that survived the attacks flocked to his castle. Eventually the attacks started happening daily. And the creatures just kept getting bigger and bigger. Duke Stephan hadn't seen a clear day in over three years. With the increase in the monster attacks, the clouds came as well. It was almost as if the clouds were created to cause depression and anxiety in whoever they covered. The people had lost all hope, and no one knew what to do.

    As Duke Stephan spoke to his men, he told them of the courage they must have. Their nation, the villagers, and their own families were counting on them. They couldn't let the castle fall to these monsters. The duke glanced down at the sundial in his courtyard, hoping the clouds would part long enough to let some sunlight through so he could check the time.

    Suddenly the shadow of an enormous castle showed on the sundial's face. The duke looked up with a shocked look of realization. He had thought all of these years that the monsters were just increasing and randomly attacking. But the duke now surmised that somehow, the ancient horrors of old had been awakened from their long slumbers and were being controlled by someone. That someone must be in the clouds!

    The Duke immediately set about assigning his court wizards to create a flying ship. The Duke would take his hand picked best men with him and find whatever was causing these monsters to attack and put a stop to it. All he needed was time....
      Sky Hidden Treasure Map.JPG
    • CommentAuthorFarsightX3
    • CommentTimeJul 27th 2017
     
    Hi Tonn, great job on the clouds and perspective. I would say use the same symbol set for the structures in the clouds as they are prominent in the map. The castle on the left, I would use over ther Herwin Wielink Elven structure you have the bottom right. You may also want to consider using the same symbol/art style as the castle on the cloud to the left of the map for the islands below. Just a thought, maybe blend the clouds slightly over the cities in the clouds to give it that they're truly resting in them. Other than great idea!
    • CommentAuthorTonnichiwa
    • CommentTimeJul 28th 2017
     
    Thanks FarsightX3. I still haven't worked out some things for this yet, but that helps :) The artwork will probably change, as well as some of the other things for the map. I really like your suggestion of making the castle blend with the clouds a bit more. I already changed up the ships direction and I probably won't keep the Herwin Weilink style buildings But I might change the whole style except for the clouds over to Mike Schley style as he happens to have far more symbols available for buildings and castles than just about any other style. It also might make this seem a little more hand drawn. I might even go for black and white for most of it except for the land and the ocean, then have the main character realize that he is actually in a storybook.
    • CommentAuthorTonnichiwa
    • CommentTimeJul 30th 2017 edited
     
    So I decided to keep the symbol set the same. I just added some text and a few clouds and a few more buildings.

    King Stephan ordered the court wizard to turn the ship invisible so they could approach the castle unmolested. Then ordered the Bos'un to lower the anchor so Stephan and his men could use it to climb down into the castle courtyard and take whoever owned it by surprise.

    Quietly they crept down the anchor chain. Duke Stephan was the first to go. At the end of the chain he grew concerned that he might just slip right through and fall through the clouds, but he summoned his courage and stepped down. The ground felt like he was walking on pillows and it was cold. Waving to the rest of the men, they stepped off of the chain and made their way to Stephan's side. He had already started moving towards the main building. The door to it was massive. Much larger than any he had ever seen. The men grew nervous, not knowing what kind of creature could possibly need such a large door to enter through. Henry, the Dukes sergeant of arms, noticed that one part of the door wasn't cut exactly straight, so it could allow them to climb under it as there seemed to be a small gap between the door and the floor. They made their way inside and stopped in astonishment at what they saw.

    A large feast table was laid out with all kinds of exotic foods, beer flagons were half full, and many a blue colored giants were asleep in the chairs, under the tables, on the stairs that led to other floors, in the halls, everywhere. In a giant ornately carved chair sat one of the blue giants. A silver-white crown lay on his head and everything was covered in a light layer of purple dust.

    The men made their way to the giant with the crown. They all positioned themselves with swords and spears at the ready, and tried to wake him.

    "Oy! Gimmie annuver Drinnk!" Caann't yo..you schee..it's my birffday!" bellowed the giant in what seemed to be a half drunk stupor.

    "Who are you!" shouted Stephan, "And why are you sending giant monsters to attack my lands?"

    The blue giant burped and almost blew Duke Stephan off of the table. "Whaaat are yo..you taaalkin about..I don..don...don't deal wif no Monster's. Dat's ole ole Igmund's job...E's da C...C...Cru...Crucible keeper. Go ask i'm...And Get me annuvver Drink!"

    The duke knew he had better gather his men and leave while he could. He knew there was no way his men could take on this many giants if they all woke up.

    He leaned in and asked the giant "Where's the Crucible?"

    The Giant slurred " It's up norrrrth" Just as he passed back out again. Stephan and his men hurried back to the ship, signaled for the wizard to make the ship visible, and the men climbed back up the anchor chain. Then they set off to find the crucible in the north.
      Sky Hidden Treasure Map2.JPG
    • CommentAuthorLorelei
    • CommentTimeJul 30th 2017
     
    Tony this is pretty neat! I love the symbols you've used! Might i suggest a very slight blur on a sheet below the clouds and above the islands? This seems to work well to imply height on battle maps, i am wondering if it would work here to give the clouds the illusion of being higher up? Am I making any sense? lol. Anyway, i just love this idea! I did a floating island once, but not top-down view....i might try this! Good luck in the challenge! You'll get my vote :)
    • CommentAuthorFarsightX3
    • CommentTimeJul 30th 2017
     
    Love the changes Tonn. Did you make the cloads in photoshop?
    • CommentAuthorTonnichiwa
    • CommentTimeJul 30th 2017
     
    Thanks Lorelei, I'll try that. One question though, do I have to put anything other than a slight blur on that sheet?

    Thanks FarsightX3, Nope, this is 100% CC3+. I'm using the Alyssa Faden style from the Cartographer's Annual Number 95 and it has a ton of cloud symbols that I'm using to create this map.
    • CommentAuthorLorelei
    • CommentTimeJul 31st 2017
     
    Posted By: TonnichiwaThanks Lorelei, I'll try that. One question though, do I have to put anything other than a slight blur on that sheet?


    I usually put a sheet with the Solid (lightest) fill, then add a blur to it ( I attached the 2nd floor to the Krok & Spyd Inn for the atlas to give you an idea what it looks like and how i've done it - the BLUR sheet)
    • CommentAuthorTonnichiwa
    • CommentTimeJul 31st 2017
     
    Thanks Lorelei. I'll start investigating :) Hopefully this works!
  1.  
    Hey Tonnichiwa :)

    This is a really cool little campaign setting. I'm loving the story. The perspective on the map is perfect. It really does distinguish the multiple levels of adventure - and there are plenty of interesting places to explore.

    So, c'mon Tonnichiwa! What happens at the Crucible, or are you leaving that to our imagination?

    Great Job, and good luck in the challenge!

    DMG
    • CommentAuthorTonnichiwa
    • CommentTimeJul 31st 2017 edited
     
    Thanks Dungeon Master Gaz :)

    Lol, ok. Here's more of the story.

    Duke Stephan again ordered the wizard to make the ship invisible. As they approached the Crucible, he could see a strange looking dock surrounding a massive colorful rounded building. It looked as if the floor of the dock were moving, rolling along as if wheels were under the floor. Suddenly a great flopping and splatting was heard coming from the building.

    Stephan and his men watched in amazement as a giant octopus, much larger than his ship, was moved along on the dock until finally it came to the end of it. The octopus then plunged from this great height into the ocean and began swimming around. It looked as if it were trying to find its bearings. A short while later, a large behemoth came out of the building and rode along the dock until it too was sent off of the end and into the water below. It plunged downward with a great splash and sunk beneath the waves and finally surfaced again, spouting great gouts of water from its head.

    Stephan knew that he had to find a way into this building and put a stop to the creation of these creatures. He ordered the ship to pull as close to what looked like a door as the ship could get. He and his men balanced on the edge of the “dock” being careful not to step on the moving part as it would force them to go the opposite way. They climbed into the building using the exit the monsters had come from and climbed through what looked to be like large spouts that sprayed salt water over the dock.

    As they made their way inside, they were greeted with another strange sight. A massive see through tank of what looked to be glass held a massive amount of multi colored gel. It was hooked up to a large device of some sort that had many buttons and one giant lever. The dock led up to this device and right into what looked to be a furnace that was directly under the glass tank. Slumped across the lever so that it was pushed forward, and laying across multiple buttons was a creature twice the size of the giants they had left in the castle. It had six arms, two humanoid looking heads, and two giant legs. A massive amount of purple dust coated everything, and the giant creatures face was in a pile of it. It looked as if it had suffocated on the dust and died in that spot.

    Stephan knew he must get this creature off of the lever and somehow shut this device down. He called all of his men to try to help move the creature but it was just too heavy. They couldn’t even lift one finger from off of one of the buttons. What were they going to do?

    Suddenly, one of the men called out to Stephan. He was pointing at a massive map that was mounted on the wall. On the map, Stephan could see there was a building to the east of his location called Sandman’s workshop. But the name Sandman had been scribbled out and the words “Mad Sigrid’s” written over the top of it. The map had purple dust drawn around the area of the workshop, as if that must be where this purple dust was created.

    Stephan wondered if whoever was there might be responsible for all of this purple dust, and the death of this creature. Maybe whoever was there would be willing to help set things right if he knew what his purple dust had done…

    Stephan ordered the men back to the boat. They were going to find this workshop and whoever might be responsible for all of this.
      Sky Hidden Treasure Map3.JPG
    • CommentAuthorJimP
    • CommentTimeAug 1st 2017
     
    *jaw drop* Now, thats what I call a back story !
    • CommentAuthorShessar
    • CommentTimeAug 1st 2017
     
    Oh wow! Your maps always amaze and delight. This one is pure 'flights of fancy'. Lovin' it!
  2.  
    Nice writing, Tonnichiwa. I'm thoroughly enjoying this story.

    You fooled me into thinking the purple dust was the fallout from the giant's birthday party celebration or something, but clearly there's another influence at work here... Do the newly unleashed creatures pose a threat to Stephan's castle? Who is Mad Sigrid, and what's he up to? Will there be a map of Sigrid's workshop?

    Looking forward to the next instalment, dude!

    DMG
    • CommentAuthorTonnichiwa
    • CommentTimeAug 1st 2017 edited
     
    Well Lorelei, I tried to do the blur thing but it doesn't really work that well with this art style. It just seemed to make things look like they were harder to see, rather than giving a height illusion. Ah well, I figured it might act that way with this art style. I think the blur works better on the more realistic looking arts, rather than the hand drawn or cartoony styles.

    @JimP: Thanks :)

    @Shessar: Thanks :)

    @Dungeon Master Gaz: Thanks :) Yep, the new creatures will eventually pose a threat if he can't do anything about them. Sorry, there won't be a map of Sigrid's workshop. Well, not for this challenge anyway.

    I fixed a little bit of the text and here is the next installment.

    The ship pulled up to Mad Sigrid’s Workshop and slid into a cloud bank near the door. Duke Stephan looked the building over and noticed that many of the glass windows had been blown out of the building. Purple dust should have been everywhere outside but Stephan assumed the wind up this high must have carried it away. Inside, the building was covered in scorch marks, as if something had exploded from the center of the room. Large pipes and ducts hung at odd angles and were bent in weird shapes all over the building. Near the center lay the remains of some sort of creature Stephan had never seen before. It seemed as if this creature were a sort of automaton or golem. It was made of stitched together leather and had a very pronounced forehead. The center of its body was missing and scorch marks surrounded the legs and upper part of it.

    There was also a massive amount of purple dust covering everything here as well. Only some of the dust had been scorched, just like the Golem had been. Looking around for something that might help them move the large creature in the Crucible, Stephan came upon a letter written on what looked to be dragon skin.

    “To whom it may concern”, it read. “While spreading sleep dust around the world has been my life’s passion for millennia, I need a break. I’ve kept the mortals dreams alive for a very long time and after a while it gets very tiring. As of now, I’m going on a vacation. I need it. I’ve left my assistant Sigrid in charge while I’m gone and instructed him on how to use the sand machine to keep the Creatures made from the Crucible asleep in the deepest parts of the ocean. I’m sure Sigrid is responsible enough not to wake them unless called upon by the ancient ones to do so.

    Sincerely

    Sandman

    P.S. Tell old man Vulcan to keep the volume down with all of his banging. It makes it very hard to get people to fall while his incessant hammering makes thunder roll across the world, and his lightning bolts light up the night sky.”

    Another journal was found a few feet away from the first. In very bad script was written…

    My uncle has left me in charge of making sure everyone goes to sleep on time, but this is boring! I’d rather go drink at the castle with all the other giants! Do you think Uncle Sandman would mind if I just built a golem to do this while I go to the party?

    First, I’ve got to hook him up to the machine so he won’t wander off. Then I will tell him to press the green button, but not the red button….or is it the red button but not the green button? Well either way, it isn’t that hard to do so I’m sure he’ll be fine…

    Ok, he’s hooked up. Now I just have to teach him which button to press…”

    Stephan feared the worst. He was sure the golem pressed the wrong button, causing whatever this contraption was to explode and send sleeping powder all over this cloud kingdom.

    He ordered his men to look around for another body. Sure enough, they found the charred remains of some unidentifiable life form in a large pile of the dust.

    Stephan and his men had been up here for a while and the sun started to set. As it did so, suddenly the purple dust started to glow. One man fell down into the dust; a loud snore emanating from him, then suddenly disappeared. A few more followed. Three more after that.

    “Back to the Ship!” ordered Stephan. The men ran as fast as they could, fighting off the oncoming sleep.
    He had to get out of there before they all disappeared!

    As they ran, suddenly thunder rolled across the clouds, and lightning arched underneath the ship. It seemed to come from the east.
    So that is where Stephan needed to go. Maybe he could find a way to harness that lightning and use it to destroy the Crucible.
      Sky Hidden Treasure Map.JPG
  3.  
    Fantastic, Tonnichiwa!

    I've been catching up and following your tale during my break at work. It's been a wonderful way to pass the time, and I'm looking forward to the next instalment.

    Do you often write stories around your maps? I think its a great pastime.

    DMG
  4.  
    Thanks DMG!

    Most of the time there is a story to be told by my maps, though I admit that most of the time the story is very nebulous and not so concrete unless someone asks me to tell them the story behind the map. Then it tends to just write itself.
  5.  
    Duke Stephan’s men tied the Ship to one of the posts that held up the overhang near the front door to the building. Stephan and his men then disembarked and made their way right in the front door of the building.

    Inside, the building was full of a light layer of smoke. It was also incredibly hot and smelled of heated metal and ozone. Multiple strange devices, the like of which were indescribable, lay scattered around the room. Flat metal bits in the shape of lightning bolts were stuffed into huge boxes, crates, and sat propped against the walls next to what looked like a giant ballista.

    Near the back wall of the place was chained a giant creature who’s skin was the color of the clouds, yet he had what looked like upraised veins that were bright blue all over his skin. He held a set of tongs with one of the pieces of lightning shaped metal pieces clamped in them.

    Stephan watched as the man pulled the tongs out of a large trough of water, then said some words Stephan did not understand. Suddenly, the entire place went silent! The large giant then picked up a very large hammer and started beating on the piece of metal. But there was no sound! After he stopped beating on the metal piece, the giant made a gesture with his hand and the sound returned. Then he dipped the metal back into the water. A large cloud of steam rose up. Stephan got an idea. He would wait until the creature turned the sound off again and then he and his men would steal the ballista and some of the metal bits and use it to destroy the Crucible.

    Slowly they crept through the room, each one grabbing a bit of metal. They had to stop every time the giant turned the sound on so they would not get caught. They eventually hauled all of the metal bits they could reach onto the ship. Then, they went for the ballista. Stephan and his men rigged up a device to move the Ballista to the ship and slowly dragged it along. When they got to the door, the giant turned the sound back on, but the ballista didn’t stop moving in time. It kept rolling forward and smacked into the door.

    The giant stopped what he was doing, grabbed his hammer, and headed for the door. He spotted Stephan and his men pulling on the ballista to try to move it so it would fit outside the door. Screaming bloody curses at them, the giant raced for the doorway and swung his great hammer. As he did so, the chain on his arm swung wide as well.

    Three of Stephan’s men were felled by the Giant’s swing.

    “Olaf! Harold!” yelled Stephan, “Get that thing swung around! I’ve got an idea!” Then Stephan ordered the rest of his men to surround the Giant so the giant would not know where to swing and wouldn’t be able to hit them all at the same time. The men danced under and through the giants clumsy swings. Those who were hit were instantly killed, while those who didn’t continued to confuse the giant.

    After about five minutes of fighting, Olaf and Harold yelled to Stephan “Now what?”

    Stephan yelled back “Olaf! You’re my best artillery specialist. Load one of those metal bolts into that ballista and see if you can pin the chain to the wall with it. That might give us some time to escape!”

    Then Stephan and his men continued to weave and dodge the giants swings.

    Olaf took aim and fired. The weapon shot the metal bit out of the end, but the second it got free, it transformed into a huge lightning bolt, which arced across the room, slamming into the wall and exploding on impact, sending all of the men and the giant to the ground.

    Everyone looked around, stunned at what had just happened. Their hair stood up on end and they felt all tingly. Olaf and Harold were the only ones not knocked over.

    Harold quickly loaded another one in. Olaf took aim at where the chain lay on the floor and sent another lightning bolt arcing towards it. As it touched the chain, a yellow energy surrounded the bolt and turned it solid. It then slammed into the floor like a giant spear, but didn’t explode. The giant got a panicked look on his face and totally forgot about Stephan and his men. He stood up and turned to the lightning spear, then started pulling with all of his might. He could not get the spear to release. He was stuck to that spot in the floor. The giant started to bellow and a large thunderous sound came from his mouth. It rolled across the room and out the door. Suddenly the clouds absorbed it and magnified the sound. It then rolled the sound clear across the sky. Stephan and his men hurried to get the ballista out of the door and loaded onto their ship.

    As they pulled the ship away, they could see that the lightning bolt had stuck all the way through the building and was stuck in a cloud underneath. They could still hear the giant roaring. Then they could see the lightning bolt spear rattling around as if the giant were trying to free it. As it did so, a charge was built up and then released into the clouds, followed shortly by the thunderous roars of the giant.

    Stephan had his men place the ballista at the front of the ship and then raced it towards the Crucible. He had Olaf fire shot after shot at the Crucible. It took a while but eventually one of the bolts got through and must have hit the glass container of the gel. The building exploded in a rainbow colored show of lights that spread through the sky. Duke Stephan knew he had found a treasure. One he would bring home to serve his people for all time.

    The school teacher closed the book. She turned to her class and said “And now you know why you sleep at night, why you hear thunder and see lightning during storms, and why you see the Aurora Borealis. You also know how we harnessed electricity”. The class full of college kids just laughed. Suddenly the bell rang. The school day was over and the teacher could finally take a break. She watched all of the students leave the classroom, and then went to her desk and sat in her chair. She fiddled with some pencils on her desk for a while and asked herself what her great great great grandfather Benjamin Franklin would think of this tale.

    She opened her desk and pulled out an old piece of wood. The wood looked as if it were centuries old. Her mother had given it to her when she got the job as a teacher of literature at the college. She thought it might make a great paper weight. Her mother said it had been in the family for years and was kept in an old lock box with some other items that used to belong to her great great great grandfather like a key, a kite, and a large ball of string.

    She reached for her bottle of water but hit a container of pencils with her arm before she could reach it. The container fell over and the contents knocked over the water bottle, spilling it onto the piece of wood. Suddenly a word appeared on the flat side of the wood. “Salvation” it said. She picked it up and looked closely at it. “Salvation” she said. Then put the wood down. She went over to the cupboard and grabbed the paper towels to clean up the spilled water. Turning back around, the piece of wood floated in the air in front of her. ..
      Sky Hidden Treasure Map.PNG
  6.  
    Nice story, Tonnichiwa

    Particularly liked the Odysseus style thinking of Duke Stephan, defeating the giant in a non-violent manner and explaining thunder and lightning to boot! Beautiful map, and a great tale!

    DMG