The Red-Hand Barony

I thought I would share my first CC3+ map, made using the Local Area style from this month's annual. This style is lightning fast - it only took me about two hours to make this!


This is a small-scale setting I made for an Old School D&D campaign. It is the Red-Hand Barony, a small fief of adventure and intrigue carved out of the monster-haunted wilderness by forty years of relentless war. The ruler is Erik Gorland, known as Baron Red-Hand for his banner (a crimson hand on a field of white). As a younger man he came from a human kingdom lying off the eastern edge of the map and built a stronghold on the banks of the Bloody River. The early days of the barony were a desperate struggle against endless Chaotic hordes pouring out of the west. But the Baron and his loyal retainers clung to their foothold on the river, and the discovery of highly-prized red salt in the Haunted Hills allowed the Baron to bring in mercenaries and armed settlers to turn the tide. Eventually the entire region was pacified almost to the ruined city of Mal Kestra (the remnant of some ancient human empire, or perhaps an elvish or even orcish empire - no one knows anymore). The Barony then enjoyed prosperity for two decades, although fighting never ceased in the western areas. Over the last ten years the forces of Chaos have grown resurgent, and the outermost keep has fallen to them. Now the Barony must be more watchful than ever against invasion; meanwhile, the Baron nears seventy years old - with no acknowledged heir - and the precious red salt appears to be dwindling.

This is a "hand drawn" map of the Barony designed to print out nicely on 8 1/2 by 11 paper as a player handout. The region has been supplied with a number of "home bases" and possible adventure hooks. In general, civilized lands lie to the east and south, monsters and Chaotic hordes come from the west, and fairy creatures and demihumans dwell in the north. This could even be used right out of the box with Basic D&D, with the "Old Keep" being the Haunted Keep and the "New Keep" being the Keep on the Borderlands with the Caves of Chaos nearby (and perhaps the Isle of Dread lying beyond Lake Morag...)


  • RalfRalf Administrator, ProFantasy 🖼️ 18 images Mapmaker
    Excellent! Glad to see the style is as quick and useful as we imagined.
  • This is one of my favorite mapping styles to date.
  • Very will done. This is the second map I have seen on here with this style on the forum. It looks really nice. I in particular like how you used the symbols together to represent the Red Salt Mine.
  • Thank you! I always like finding new and unexpected ways to use symbols.
  • Great work, nice first map. And I like the backstory. :)
  • ClerconClercon Betatester Traveler
    Looks really great. Good to see my style coming to some great use :)
  • Thank you! And thanks for all the great work you've contributed to CC3. This style is now in my top 5 favorites (along with your B&W style with all the sea monsters).
  • These simplistic styles are by far the best trade off between map quality and time spent. Nice work ! :)
  • Blackadder23Blackadder23 Traveler
    edited August 2015
    That's true about simple styles!

    Another reason I like them (including this style in particular) is because they look like something a scribe in a fantasy world might actually produce by hand.
  • Great map and the backstory for the region just makes me want to play a game in it right now! Where do I sign up!?!?!?!
  • Thank you! I wish I had time to run a game right now...

    Austral Mountains: “These jagged peaks are said to shelter cavemen and insane hermits. Somewhere beyond the Australs are jungles filled with gold and ivory, but also dinosaurs and burning volcanoes.”
    The Beast-Wood: “The trees here are of unnatural size for this region, their leaves blotting out the sun. Beasts of every kind are found in great profusion, and the northern reaches near the Boreal Mountains are said to teem with prehistoric creatures such as mammoths and saber-tooth tigers.”
    Bloody River: “The name is derived from the murky red color of the water – stained by iron oxides leeched from the Boreal Mountains – and also from the untold amount of blood spilled in the early years to turn back the forces of Chaos.”
    Boreal Mountains: “Snow caps the peaks of the northern mountains, which are said to contain a great brazen door leading to the kingdom of the dwarves. Far beyond the mountains are rumored to lie frozen wastes inhabited by frost giants, frost salamanders, and less describable things.”
    Brigand Forest: “Unruly and uncouth men congregate here, raiding the caravan traffic from the Farther Realm to Zennox. Their lives are forfeit on the spot if captured by the Baron’s men.”
    Castle Red-Hand: “This vast complex, paid for by the great wealth of the red salt trade, sprawls on both sides of the Bloody River and controls the only crossing. Baron Red-Hand is gouty and profane, bitter at his lack of an heir, grasping when it comes to taxes and caravan tolls; yet he is also the sole champion of Law this far to the west.”
    Coldwater River: “In the winter chunks of ice drift down this slow-moving river from the unknown lands beyond the Boreal Mountains, sometimes bearing odd corpses which are hastily burned by the appalled folk who find them.”
    Dark Mire: “This bog is dank and reeking, the home of lizardmen and gibbering gnolls who crave anthropophagic cuisine. Near its center is said to rise a strange monolith whose origin is unguessed.”
    East Henge: “None can say if these monuments were raised by elves, cavemen, or an early race of uncivilized humans. Those who slumber here on moonless nights may dream strange dreams.”
    The Elf-Downs: “These rolling lands are deemed the province of the elves and their fairy kin, who have been known to play occasionally deadly pranks on interlopers. The ancient mounds rising among the hills are said to hold undreamed riches, but also wights that crawl about ceaselessly in their chambers beneath the earth.”
    Goblin Wood: “The orcs and goblin-kin that beleaguered and broke the Old Keep have infiltrated these woods, and now make raids on the New Keep and the salt mines, and occasionally as far as Castle Red-Hand.”
    Haunted Hills: “An uncanny blue mist never completely lifts from these mournful mounds, and the dead sleep uneasily here. It is rumored that a tomb on the edge of the Unnatural Swamp holds the loveliest vampire in all Creation.”
    Lake Molag: “Stretching far to the south and east, Lake Molag carries the bulk of the red salt trade with the Farther Realm. As well, it is often plied by silk-sailed ships of the elaborately polite folk who dwell in the perfumed jungle cities of the south.”
    Marshton: “The dour residents of this isolated hamlet offer scant welcome to visitors. Rare outsiders have noted a certain resemblance between these benighted folk and lizards, a fact which has become the subject of coarse jests and disgusting insinuations.”
    New Keep: “High atop a bluff rises this mighty fortress, and five hundred picked men guard the approaches. It is a frequent destination for traders, explorers, and adventurers desperate enough to dare the terrors of the West. A faint track still runs from this redoubt to the late lamented Old Keep.”
    Old Keep: “Years ago this far western outpost fell to the hordes of Chaos, although they were too disorganized to exploit their victory before the New Keep could be reared to oppose them. Now it is the lair of vile creatures – some say bandits, some say goblins, some say wererats, some say all of these and worse.”
    Old Wood: “This fairy realm, haunt of sprites and centaurs, stretches for an unknown distance beyond the Boreal Mountains. The Lady of the Wood dwells in the deeps of the forest – spinning her spells from within a colossal hollow tree, or so they say – and she does not relish mortal intrusion.”
    Port of Rothgar: “The largest settlement west of the Oriental Mountains, this busy trading port has a near-monopoly of the red salt trade. It is always a good place to find a backroom deal or a barroom knife-fight.”
    Red Salt Mine: “The delicate flavor and myriad occult uses of red salt are too well-known to require commentary here. This deep pit mine, surrounded by fortifications and guard towers, is the only known source in Creation for that precious commodity. Lawbreakers labor here beneath the lash, their lungs slowly dissolving from the corrosive effects of the priceless delicacy. It is to be hoped that rumors of dwindling salt supplies are just that: rumors. Without the wherewithal to purchase an endless supply of hardened mercenaries, the Barony would surely be doomed.”
    Ruins of Mal Kestra: “None can say who, or perhaps what, reared the colossal city that now only exists as a jumble of titanic stones and impossibly-huge broken columns. Elves, orcs, a lost race of men, and the gods themselves have all been rumored to be the builders, but the truth is lost in an unthinkable abyss of time. Beneath the city are said to stretch endless passageways glittering with the wealth of untold eons and forgotten sorceries – and guardians most strange and fell.”
    Sylvania: “This prosperous village exists untouched on the edge of the Brigand Forest. Its apparent immunity from armed robbery prompts many observers to suspect complicity in that unsavory trade.”
    Unnatural Swamp: “The name of this grim morass is no metaphor, for this was once a great irrigation network, perhaps associated with the lost city of Mal Kestra. When the irrigation ditches overflowed, the region sank into the desolate troll-haunted marsh that exists today.”
    West Henge: “These ancient megaliths mark the southwestern edge of the Barony’s claimed border. Goblins and orcs are wont to leave gruesome trophies and obscene graffiti here to spite the Baron’s pretensions.”
    Zennox: “This town has grown wealthy from its monopoly on caravan trade with the Farther Realm. For years it has attempted to wrest control of the red salt trade from Rothgar, and the Lord Mayor of Rothgar has openly accused the Zennoxians of supporting lake piracy and sabotage of Rothgarian barges. In return the Merchant Prince of Zennox has accused the Rothgarians of subsidizing the bandits in the Brigand Forest. It is known that both towns have hired more mercenaries of late, and the situation may yet erupt into open warfare.”
  • I like this gazetteer, too. Plenty of adventure hooks.
  • Blackadder23Blackadder23 Traveler
    edited August 2015
    Thank you!

    Here is another map of the same region "by a different scribe" using Par Lindstrom's regional style from the December '12 annual.

  • Another nice effort. I think I like this style a bit better.
  • I prefer the first style :) but the second has its own merits.

    Note about Boreal and Austral : it would mean that the line separating the north and south hemisphere is somewhere between both mountains, but they're separated from less than a hundred miles (correct me if I'm wrong, I don't do imperial system usually ... :p ).
  • Blackadder23Blackadder23 Traveler
    edited August 2015

    I only used "Boreal" and "Austral" as a pretentious way of saying "northern" and "southern" from the perspective of people living in this region. It's not meant to be a commentary on the fantasy world's hemispheres. This is a temperate area well north of the equator (assuming this fantasy world even has an equator - it might be flat, or the interior of a hollow sphere).
  • 2 months later
  • Blackadder23Blackadder23 Traveler
    edited November 2015
    Just for fun, I remade this map in the new Ancient Realms style.

    photo Red Hand Barony_zps9uqiqtxl.png
  • I really like the badges in this new style.
  • Great stuff Blackadder23!

    I love the Gazetteer and the new map. :-)

    The new style is great and I love it when people include background information - the maps really come to life when that is done.

    Very, very cool!
  • The Ancient realms style version is my favorite of the 3 version. Very nicely down.
  • DogtagDogtag Moderator, Betatester Traveler
    edited November 2015
    I like how you used two different vignettes for the east and west henges. It gives each it's own feel and character.
  • Thanks guys!
    Posted By: DogtagI like how you used two different vignettes for the east and west henges. It gives each it's own feel and character.
    Thanks. I thought so too.

    I'm currently designing a "serious" campaign map in this same style, and my intention is to make all of the vignettes unique.
  • DogtagDogtag Moderator, Betatester Traveler
    All the versions of this map look great. I've always liked looking at maps of the same area done in different styles. I will say, however, that while they're all really nice, I think I still prefer your first version of this map. It just... feels right.

  • just my two cents worth, but the first style looks like a map that would be encountered in the campaign by the players, the second looks like a map they could expect to find on a tapestry. The third i love the visual, but overall works best as a GM tool or one to use with the players in 'downtime' discussions.
  • I agree Farrin.

    I like it that way and intend to do the same for my game world.

    I am making regional maps (GM) and I plan to use the style above for the world map (GM).

    I then plan on make local maps in certain styles that would fit within that culture.

    I wish they had more cultural styles like ... Japanese, Egypt, Celtic etc. - so the symbols and mapping style would fit the culture.

    There is a big difference in medieval period (where most fantasy themes draw from) maps from different parts of the world.
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