Community Atlas: Embra - Hilly Places
The next, fifth, group of Embra's "Places" is the Hilly Places of Interest, linked from the highlighted "Official Guide" map's inner circle segment:
Quite a packed link-map this time, with six individual mapped places to show, as well as the condensed "Streets", even if just four such routeways had to be set-up on one map this time.
Two neat knotwork designs reworked from the Dover Clip-Art "Celtic Borders on Layout Grids" book provided the focal elements in the map frame design here, once rotated, with a simple linear connecting outline to help highlight them, the curved piece and triangle's slope hinting at upland places at least, although another of the figurative Dover book designs, an eagle, was used on the other "Hilly" maps in this set as a further concession to upstanding terrain.
The first of the Hilly Places of Interest is a rocky mound by the curiously narrow River Clack, Palace Heights:
No real sign of a "Palace" as such, although that maze of low, grassy features all over the slightly domed hilltop hints that something may have been here once. This is one of those Places I'd had an idea or two about before the project was too far along, and parts of this map will recur in a subsequent one from the Constructed Places, where the Palace isn't just a series of grassed-over ruins. Faerie time-dilation effects can permit all sorts of weirdness, and in this case, both the hill with ruins, and the hill with a fully-functional Palace, can coexist simultaneously in Embra. The particular one to be found - perhaps even both - dependent on how the city is navigated.
The original concept came about loosely because the real-world city of Edinburgh, which was an early influence for Embra, has its own great castle-palace, set upon a rocky pinnacle in the city, although the two aren't closely comparable beyond that, chiefly because each of the Places for Embra being unconnected from any others, has to be presented on a more-or-less standalone map, whereas Edinburgh Castle's rocky platform continues down into the adjacent street area leading up to it, known as the Royal Mile.
Next is another Edinburgh-influenced location, this time based on the huge, semi-wild, volcanic-rock hill of Arthur's Seat. In Embra, this becomes the large hill named Mab's Couch:
As Arthur's Seat has a number of walking trails across it, it seemed reasonable Mab's Couch should have some as well, and the focal point of a stone cairn at the top. The red sandstone ruins that might never really have been buildings are a purely-Embra aspect though, as is the oddly-dressed madman (?) of the featured text. When thinking of suitable place-names, I felt it might be apt to add something with a perhaps more tangible frisson for potential RPG character visitors, hence Sithich Woods, as, from the accompanying PDF and text notes for this map:
A Sithich is a mischievous upland sprite that uses deadly weapons made of flint-like stone. Such flinty stones can be found lying scattered in places throughout these woods, although only the more unfortunate might encounter an actual Sithich as well.
I love the terracing on that second map :)
Map 3 in this set covers Hoolie Hill, yet another Edinburgh-influenced spot, as there is a real-world ancient site near Edinburgh called Huly Hill, which has a tumulus surrounded at a distance by three standing stones set on what seems to be a concentric ring (or perhaps two rings) centred on the burial mound. This though is Embra, so things have to be done a little differently, hence:
Thus similar, but not the same, and it is a particularly strong Faerie site. The base map used for this one also allowed scope for plenty of surrounding terrain features, so the Hill here isn't necessarily the most obvious feature for those unfamiliar, and trying to find it. The name, while a phonetic variant on the real-world one, was chosen as it can be thought to derive from the Scottish dialect term meaning "very windy", originating in a variant contraction of "howling (pronounced as "hoolin'") gale".
Miller Hill as Place 4 seemed an obvious choice for a Hilly site. However, as stated already, y'know, Embra. So this is a water mill at the top of a hill, with a stream that runs uphill to the mill pond on the summit, runs the water wheel, and then descends down the other side of the hill again! Naturally, no one here thinks this is anything unusual - how could the mill run without a water source, is the primary response to those who might seek to question the setting:
There are some buildings on this map too, for once in the "Hilly" selection, which have interiors that can be viewed using the toggle in the FCW file in the Atlas, all being well:
It has to be said I was delighted to see the random base map options had provided one that so obviously fitted the nature of a mill site of this, shall we say unusual, kind - those four square fields looking like the sails on a windmill. So there's a note in the PDF and text files for this map suggesting GMs could have the four fields, and their hedge/fence lines, rotate, flowing over the land surface like cloth, carrying anyone in one of the fields along with them, but only when the wind blows strongly. Everything else of course stands quite still; and not entirely by chance, the rotation centres more or less on the axle of the mill-wheel, where else?
Hilly map 5 is Sunset Mound, a rather more characterful hill than some in this set, looking a little like a fish with a small tail, the dominant upland in the area, with a swarm of much smaller, elongated hills clustering nearby:
While the shape for The Fence hedge-lines with its dense corner copses was largely determined by the base-map being a castle, most of the interior for that was ignored, replaced instead with a small focal-point derived from the map's accompanying featured text, that bloodstained Altar of the Dying Swan. Why such a huge, empty space surrounds it, is for GMs to expand upon.
Last of the individual Hilly Places is the segment of the Twilight Market for this set, Fair Market:
The overall nature of this location was decided well in advance - a hilltop funfair and market, with a living-wagon camp nearby for the funfair folk and some of the traders. And another chance to play "spot the castle" as determined by the original base map! Here though, that allows the easy segregation of the funfair from the main part of the market, though there is a degree of mixing as well.
Most of the features are temporary structures, stalls, tents, etc. Even those "walls" are beautifully-crafted wooden lookalikes, with huge tents at the "turret corners", though stout enough to support an array of stalls built into the lower part of the walls, and more along the upper level's walkway. There is a handful of buildings too, in the Inns of Trade area south of the hill and market proper:
Those varicolor, chimneyless, long, wooden buildings, and the small, square ones, from the CA169 Fantasy Town Annual, are amazingly versatile, I've discovered. Change their sizes a little, and an entire array of market stalls appears as if by magic, especially once some of Sue's City Domes from CA144A are added to the mix for circular tents, stall roofs or awnings, including here for a theatre/performance venue (Great Dome) and a Helter-Skelter tower (with a couple of drawn additions), not to mention that square Grand Pavilion. And the wooden long-houses also work nicely as the living-caravans (with the addition of a drawn, little round chimney top for each), as well as more of the square buildings for the stores/privies alongside the vans in the Camp. Plus there are a few more oddities in the written information to go with this drawing, as normal.
The final Hilly Places map condenses the last four items, the streets, into one sketch:
These have a different random design mechanic behind them to the individual-place maps, and it became a particular fascination for me to see what patterns came out of this system. Here, I had to fit hills to the streets so-created, but that wasn't particularly difficult. Some features along the routes could be added based on the various featured texts, while others simply came from the street names, or the shapes the system produced, if sometimes with a bit of adjustment, or inspiration that struck while drawing them. Circus Place though just happened to look like a huge pair of spectacles from the outset - and what greater spectacle than a circus? Well, two circuses! Not saying it definitely did, but that might have influenced the final appearance of The Eye in Western Approach as well! Plus how apt was it that Western Approach can be approached only from the west? Sometimes, you start to wonder if randomness is truly "random" after all...
Thanks very much Sue!
I wanted the cliffs here to look different to yours, which I'd already decided to use for the red sandstone types at Embra, as the Palace Heights ones are meant to be a harder, volcanic type of rock. Actually, a Faerie type of volcanic rock, which has different properties and abilities to "ordinary" volcanic rock, so I also wanted the forms here to act as a reminder that something a little different to normal was involved. I also used a similar style of cliff drawing in one of the Crossing Places Streets - the Rocky Vale under Seafield Road there, again because the Vale is a weird place that can't be reached, another reminder of something odd happening there.
I ticked every entry here as awesome, because I couldn't do a double awesome for the maps. this is so inspirational
Thanks very much Quenten! Glad you're enjoying it all.
Wow @Wyvern ! All this is wonderful!
I really like them all!
Many thanks @AleD - much appreciated!
Wyvern's Hilly Places of Embra are now in the atlas: