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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Sandbox Project: Adventure Scale Map 1: 07/19/2014

Ed Kann's Adventure Scale = 1 Square is 1 Square Mile
Each Map is 20 x 20 miles because the hexes on my grand campaign map
are done at 1 hex = 20 miles across.
Welcome back!  Its Setting Saturday and with so much work ahead on this sandbox expansion I thought it might be smart to work on it both on Terra Firma Thursdays and Setting Saturdays.

To the right you have what I call an Adventure Scale map.  This is a piece of simple graph paper and the drawing bits done with your basic office black pen.  I am doing this on the low tech side on purpose so that anyone, anywhere can create their own material exactly like mine without a lot of time, expensive materials or fancy shmancy art talent.

The graph paper here is a page out of a spiral notebook called a QUAD PAD which you can pick up at Office Depot.  I like these because I can make all my Adventure Scale maps in one easy to flip open and lay flat Quad Pad while giving the map maker in the party a blank Quad Pad and the layout of their maps will more likely fit what I have in hand.  It seems fair that the players at least have the same size sheet of graph paper to work off of as I have behind the screen.  Plus they are dirty cheap.

This example map is not quite complete.  As I key set encounter locations in the overland portions of the map I will note the locations of these with a red dot.  Example.  If I have a set encounter with an Ogre cave at location T-18 on the grid (see the letters across the top and numbers down the side - cross reference these for the correct grid location like playing a game of battleship) I will put a little red dot on that square on my DM map as a reminder that, "Hey DM, don't forget you already have a set encounter waiting in this square for the players to enjoy.  Take a moment to look it up under the entry T-18 in your adventure notebook."

You can fit a whole lot of adventure into a 20 by 20 mile area.  The players will get dropped into this location in the ruins of the old capital of the Kingdom of Kyrene, the city of Kyros at the center of this starting map.  They will be first level with no specific knowledge about the surrounding area outside of the fact that its in ruins, they start secure in an old wizard's tower with the bare minimum of food and water to survive inside the tower for a few nights.  Exploring the tower will gift them with a very few starting items.  Sufficient so that they have some chance of survival when they decide to leave the tower looking for food and water.

Kyros is smack in the middle of the Taint Lands and there are only two very small groups of "normal" survivors holed up in the city.  Otherwise the entire city is one big ruin full of monsters of all sorts of types and of course the undead created by the Pattern Storms.  Kyros is not an enormous starting city.  At its height it boasted a population of perhaps two thousand people so it will be plenty to keep the characters occupied for several adventures but they will fairly quickly explore the place.

Outside of Kyros the villages of Fork, Blackshore near the edges of the Bogwater Swamp, Pelfore and Grone are completely in the hands of the undead.  These are Haunts.  Very dangerous places but likely holding some of the best rewards as far as nifty gear and that sort of thing.

Northeast of the Haunt of Grone is the ruins of Ironspire Castle, the original estate of the King of Kyrene and his court.  This was abandoned when it became clear that the entire Taint Lands were a lost cause and much of it was emptied of wealth.  A tribe of Orcs has been pushed into the forest in this area by the pressures of the undead rising around them and most of the Orcs have moved into the abandoned castle to turn it into a stronghold and base of operations.

The villages surrounding Kyros are quite small.  A black dot village is more of a two street location with an Inn and a dozen buildings, perhaps three or four of these are shops.  Many of these remain in the hands of the original citizens although one has been taken over by bandits.  Locations identified as a "collection of buildings" is just that, perhaps two large farms located next to one another or an isolated Inn with two or three houses built nearby.

Note: Tonight I will come back and write at least a general description of several areas on this starting sandbox map.  Next week I plan to key in about a third of the set encounter locations and just keep working, working, working on this.  As I mentioned earlier this will probably take a few months to set up completely how I like to have my areas written before I start dropping players into them.  Good times making them though.  Good Times.

Saturday Afternoon Notes:

I'm thinking the central area of this map surrounding the city of Kyros should be called the Kyree'an Veld, a region of fertile farmland, gently rolling hills with scattered trees.  The Southwest area is marsh and swamp theme so just going with the simple Bogwater Swamps name for now.  The South East corner of the map is mostly forest and has the biggest concentration of deep woods.  Light woods squares have a slightly more difficult wandering monster value than plains, roads or cultivated fields which all share a basic wilderness encounter difficulty of 1.  Light Woods being 2.  I'm thinking both hills and deep woods have an encounter difficulty of 3 but with two different wandering monster lists, one for hills and one for deep woods.  I think that concentration of heavy forest I'll call The Willow Dirge Woodlands.  Immediately to the West of Kyros is some hills with an area defined as rocky highlands.  There is a fort up in the highlands and a couple of caves which may or may not be linked via an underground cavern system.  I'm thinking I'll call that area the Dragon's Heart.  You have to have some reference to a dragon or dragons in a dungeons and dragons game, after all.  There are two infestations of a sort of massive tangled web of brush which are impassible for a rider on a horse, one has to hack and climb and crawl through these areas.  I think I'll call the Western area the Spider's Nest and the Eastern tangle will be merely a part of The Hive.

I can lighten up my scan of the adventure map and drop it into the background to create this reference map.  I like having broad regions to reference when I work on a map and encounters because it helps me focus on whatever theme I want to build into each area.

As a note I intend this first adventure map to be an entry level area with encounters ranging loosely from level zero to level three.  Likely there will be no actual dragons on this map but perhaps there will be clues to where one can be found on another map nearby up in the Dragon's Heart highlands.

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Happy Gaming!!



  1. Replies
    1. Hey thanks Paul! I really appreciate the comment and visit.

  2. This technique looks pretty cool. Gonna try it out :)

  3. How long does it generally take you to make a 20x20 grid map?