Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Mappa Mundi - Experimenting with Dernok

I have been experimenting a good amount lately. I have found that the only way I seem to learn is to try, fail, try again, but I suppose that is probably normal for most people. Above I am trying to make a more consistent look to my town/village maps and tried my hand at a few things I learned from the master mapper himself, +Fantastic Maps. At first glance the map above seems off to me slightly, caused by the two different methods of drawing cliffs, those on the left and those on the right. This was done intentionally as I was trying two different methods he discusses on his own blog here.
I am not sure I have done the tutorial justice but I was going for something slightly different than he presented. The town of Dernok above sits on a cliff along a trail that rises from the valley floor. Below the town (to the right) are steep cliffs that have protected the town for ages from random goblins and orcs that wander through the valley. Above the town rise even more steep and jagged cliffs that rise high into the mountains (on the left above). To some degree I wanted to show a difference, not sure if worked or not. This is not the final map as I want to adding shadows, trails, details and a little more texture but I wanted to get this up for today's Mappa Mundi. In any case, I present to you now...

The Dwarven Gatetown of Dernok
      Contrary to popular belief, not all dwarves live under the earth. A few village and outposts lie here and there, scattered through the Shielding Wall. The Gatetown of Dernok is one such place, at both times a gatetown to an entrance to the lower lands of the Under Kingdom and waypoint along the trail from the Keranak Kingdoms to the dwarven helm of Dul Kernik. The Gatehouse, a long stone building guards the entrance to the lower lands and is at all times guarded...on both sides...to ensure no one without approval can enter, or leave.

      One striking difference between this town and others that everyone will immediately notice is that it is made with dwarves in mind. The doors reach a little over four and a half feet tall, ceilings are five feet and most buildings are a maximum of eight to fourteen feet tall. Any tall folk in town will find themselves constantly reminded of their height and ramming their head into various low objects. Visitors will also notice that despite the wide roads that wander through town (by decree of the Master-at-Arms for defensive reasons) the buildings are twisted and crowded, built upon each other as if the town were running out of space and had opted to build up instead of out. This creates a whimsical ramshackle appearance, though the stone buildings are solidly built. Some of the buildings have been added to and built upon that entering it is like entering a maze.

       The current Master-at-Arms of the gatetown is Lord Thorek, a rough and scarred dwarf. Many myths surround this old dwarven warrior. It is said he once stood at the gatehouse alongside his father and fought a Fell Demok. When the dust settled, only Thorek remained on his feet. His face is crisscrossed with scars and he rarely smiles. He can often be found manning the wall, a dark shadow moving behind his dark blue eyes, as if he is searching for something. When he is not along the wall, he can be found in the small apple orchards that line the cliff wall. These were planted by his daughter ages ago and since her passing have become a favorite haunt of his.

      Most of the dwarves in town are friendly towards travelers, though these days see see few other than the Shielding Wall patrols that come through the area. If questions are asked of the gatehouse suspicions will be raised and the town guard will be notified. While not outlawed, no one may enter the gatehouse without the express permission of Lord Thorek, something he will not give lightly.

      A large inn and pub occupies the center, a large stable newly added to the mountainside of the inn. While The Brass Map is large, it is still laid out for those of dwarven stature, even the beds are of a short length. The innkeeper, Garin Trindelbok, is eager to serve and happy to have paying customers. He will answer questions so long as the subject of the lower lands is not brought up. Having once served on a Shielding Wall patrol, Garin has seen much he wishes to forget and will not engage in any conversation dealing with fools attempting to gain access to the lower lands through legal, or even illegal means.

      In between the gatehouse and the inn is a tall (fifteen feet) rectangular building. The top floor is Thorek's apartment while the lower level serves as a meeting hall and the location of the town treasury. Garut runs the building with a stern hand and always has a contingent of guards to ensure the (his) treasure is ever unsafe. Whenever a patrol enters town, the Helm (the term used for the leader of the patrol) will head here first and report to Thorek. Thus the building is always the center of activity in town with all news, wealth, and important folks moving through it's doors.


  1. Neat! I'm posting a link to this on the Axes and Anvils forum, to give dwarf-gamers another tool in the toolbox.

    I like the craggy looking cliffs on the left best. Both styles are good, they communicate something different.

  2. I think both cliff types look good -- I'd say it's a matter of personal taste. My taste coincides with Andrew's above. I prefer the craggier look. Though if I could get cliffs to come out looking half as good as either type you drew, I'd be thrilled!