When the Notes Change…

Last month I received the notes and rough sketches for the Citadel of Terror maps. I had a city shared by Gnomes and Halflings, a city in ruins, and a tower. The cities were fairly straight forward, however the tower offered a challenge. The roughs for the tower had square levels, four corners.

The cover art depicted a round tower, no corners. I was asked to make the necessary changes so that the cartography matched the art, but stayed as faithful to the notes as possible. Mental gymnastics were in order.

The Roughs

The first thing I had to do was figure out how the rooms were going to be transmogrified. I couldn’t just make the outside a cirlce and keep the rooms as they are, there would be problems with either scale or cropping. I had to figure out how to rearange the layout. So I created a template.

The Template

This guide allowed me to recreate the rooms in an orderly manner and would make matching up the stairs a lot easier. Not all the levels were complex, but the guide allowed for the simple levels to match the style of the floors that demanded a more complex layout. The key to making this work was figuring out the stairs.

The New Roughs

From the template, and a lot of staring at the original notes, I was able to figure out how to make the stairs work. It wasn’t a simple wrap around spiral staircase… I wish it was, but it wasn’t. By the notes, the room to the right of the top left corner had to be the stairs leading second floor. The notes for Tower First Floor had “To Basement” squeezed in a similarly positioned room. The next step was to wrap the rooms around the edges and to figure out what that one symbol I marked at “?” was supposed to be… it was a bathtub.

Phase 2 Sketches

Once I got all the Floors looking like this, I sent the page in Ben Burns at New Comet Games to make sure I was on the right track. After a “Looks good and that thing is a bathtub…” I started adding in the color and detail.


After all that, I think it came out looking pretty good. If you missed the kickstarter, you can pre-order Citadel of Terror over at New Comet Games.

From Roughs to Final

If you are in need of maps for tabletop roleplaying games, novels, and so forth, I am open for commisions. Please send me an email at bryan@cartography.games.

Heck of a Week!

Kevin J. Anderson’s Spine of the Dragon came out last Tuesday! The first thing I did was use my monthly Audible credit to download the audiobook. Fleet Cooper, the narrator, is outstanding. The second thing I did was drive to the closest Barnes & Nobel to check out the book! The maps came out great.

Thursday I went to NTRPGCon to take a look at the New Comet Games books I had worked on in the past year, Devil’s Swamp, Operation Deep Free & Thunderclap, and Operation Arctic Blast. Everything came out excellent. I stayed to help with the booth when Ben Burns was running a game.

Friday I played an updated version of 1986 Aliens board game and survived being grabbed 8 different times on Apone and Wierzbowski in the reactor room. At one point I had mentioned that for a licensed game from the 80s, this is a pretty good game. They were quick to point out what the original game components looked like. The minis and 3d printed terrain that we were playing with added a huge amount of production value. The key is to lead with flamethrowers and trail with smart-guns, block spawn points with flames and stay close. I was awarded a M-40 Grenade for my series of lucky dice rolls.

“You always were an asshole, Gorman”

Saturday morning I was at Alyssa Faden’s City and Towns Mapping Seminar. She pointed out a lot of good stuff about adding details that tell a story to maps and explained why a city with a thousand little squares gets boring really fast. Check her out on Twitch. Look for the Tegel Manor Torture Room video its a riot!

Saturday night I received the news that Devil’s Swamp won the Three Castles RPG Design Award! Everyone did a great job on it from the writing, art, layout, editing, it truly is a great product and I’m glad it is getting the recognition that it deserves. Congratulations to Ben Burns, Brian Courtemanche, Christopher Smith Adair, Jonathan Bagelman, Evgeni Maloshenkov, Lucas Puryear, Elizabeth Bakowski, Alexander Burns, and Jenna Bastian. And I didnt do such a bad job on those maps either. Bidgewater is one of my favorites.

Sunday I meant to drive up to SoonerCon, but the weather was not good. A huge storm system came down from Oklahoma City to Dallas and probably spawned a tornado. There was no way that I was going to drive through that so I stayed home. We lost power for about a day and a half.