Community Atlas: The Witch's Valley Head Area in eastern Alarius

Returning to Alarius, if not to my usual part of it, in my Dungeon24-ish project (this previous topic has more information on that), saw me hunting for a suitable location on the Southern Scar Environs map of eastern Alarius, for where to place the fourth and final "Crypts" Inkwell dice design map.

That's a big area, and one affected by the unpleasantly weird effects from The Scar, the linear volcanic feature surrounded by swathes of greyness in the top centre of the orange rectangle in the above illustration. The dungeon design is, by contrast, tiny, although the nature of The Scar, as sketched in the map notes, coupled with the fact this was to be another burial tomb site, had already suggested something undead and/or necromantic as a theme for the subterranean layout. So that narrowed things down somewhat, and ultimately, the site very nearly chose itself, given that one of the few labelled main locations on the Southern Scar map was "Witch's Valley", which had a circle of standing stones set in its midst. Right at the northwestern, mountain-enclosed, end was a cave symbol, so that was that!

The orange rectangle around the cave is actually 25 miles by 16 in size, so not wanting to simply drop in a little dungeon map there, as has started to become typical for this project, I also needed to devise a suitable area map into which the dungeon design could be fitted. Having sketched the basic features for this onto graph paper, I then added a random selection of additional items from the sources mentioned in my first post last time on Mate Ora, although here, the selections were tweaked to better reflect the negative feeling of this area, so relatively near The Scar - if sometimes with a few hints that things were not always as they now appear here too. Once these feature locations were emplaced, it was possible to draw in a few river and stream lines to fit, since while no major river is shown in Witch's Valley on the Southern Scar map, valleys rarely happen without something of the sort, and the mountainous terrain, plus the near-tropical location (the cave symbol is at roughly 37° N latitude), showed there would be some water channels at least.

Then it was time for the mapping. Several possible overland styles were identified as having a suitably large number of mountain and hill options, of which the DeRust Overland style from Annual 81 seemed a good fit. Thus the Witch's Valley Head map:

The labelling font is the Mason Serif Alt Bold one that comes with CC3+, as that seemed a comfortably "spiky" fit for this map style. As normal, there'll be PDF and text file notes to provide a few more details on the labelled items in the final Atlas version. While the sites for these were chosen purely randomly, it was pleasing to find they'd clustered more towards the western to northwestern part, given those are the directions of the more imposing, larger, mountain symbols on the Southern Scar map beyond this selected area.

MonsenRoyal ScribeJimPLoopysueRalfQuentenDak


  • edited March 1

    Constructing sets of connected maps like this is always an organic process, with ideas for one influencing the other along the way. For these "Crypts" designs, I've been referring to Inkwell's own "Dungeonmorph Delves and Descriptions" book, one of which options has included an order of necromancers that collect strange things from many places, storing them in their own tombs, along with reminders of their greatest leader. Since this chimed with a very long-standing idea of my own from many years ago (it's a useful way of explaining random dungeon layouts sometimes!), I decided to indulge especially heavily from the Inkwell notes for this design, with just a few adaptations and changes, since it all seemed to flow together quite nicely otherwise. Additional elements - notably among the treasures - came from the random tables mentioned in my first posting here, or ideas that occurred along the way. Thus we arrive at The Crypt of the Necromancers map:

    The mapping style is Sue's Creepy Crypts 1 & 2, from Annual issues CA 186 and CA 188, partly because I'd only used elements from it last time, and wanted to try out the complete style, partly because - of course - it's ideal for constructing burial layouts, and partly because it has those really invaluable individual step symbols, perfect for creating daises, or when the mapping design needs a non-standard staircase that rises straight before becoming a quarter-spiral at the top (in room 4 here - hopefully a little more visible on the Gallery version of this map). I've also used a couple of Sue's other symbols in this map, one from her City Domes Annual, CA 144A, the other from the CA 175 Marine Dungeon pack.

    The outside, cave entry and long cavern to get to the dungeon proper, were simply sketched-in by hand - and those two blind side passages in the Cavern aren't accidental - after the Crypt layout had been drawn-in. The mechanism for drawing caves in this style is somewhat different to normal, and took a little experimentation to get right, particularly in relation to masking the outside of the Crypt's straighter wall-lines, as that's drawn a different way. And that 10-foot grid was actually drawn on three different sheets as a result of this - some of the lines only by hand!

    I knew from the original sketched layout that there'd be space around the design to add a places list (expanded considerably by the text and PDF accompanying Atlas notes), and I opted to indulge further by using more of Sue's Creepy Crypt symbols as decoration to fill some of the spaces this left, and to add to the atmosphere. The coloration is deliberately muted and grey, in-keeping with the generally gloomy aura The Scar region encourages, aside from a Necromancers' Crypt not really being a likely place for bright wallpaper with cute puppies and kittens frolicking over it (though that would rather challenge an adventuring party's expectations)!

    The next layout is to be from Inkwell's "Delver" dice set, which has a mixture of cavern and dungeon aspects to the designs. That's scheduled for somewhere on Kraken Island in the Forlorn Archipelago...

    JimPLoopysueMonsenRoyal ScribeRalfCalibreQuenten
  • 15 days later
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