I drew the image of the keep some time ago, just as a small sketch in a notebook. However I found myself returning to it as I took a liking to the idea of a small keep in the middle of a deep and dark forest. Just recently, I decided to draw the maps of the keep, should someone want to use it as an adventure location. At some point, I might just flesh it out a bit more and add it to an adventure.
I’m not a great adventure writer, and certainly not in English (it’s not my native language) but I do try to give my adventure sites descriptive names, and I hope they can provide some substance to the place.
In this case, I’m picturing an elderly ronin-type knight, his master killed or disgraced. The knight is living out his last years as a recluse, not participating in whatever game the outside world is playing. Perhaps the player characters need to convince him to take part on one final quest. Perhaps he is a keeper of great secrets and has information the adventurers need. In any case, just finding the Knight Hermit could very well be an adventure in itself.
As DM, you could act out the Knight Hermit a bit like Obi-Wan Kenobi from the early Star Wars movies. If you want a more corny character, perhaps slightly mad from the isolation, you could base him on Yoda.
The Cube of Flesh is a spiteful creature. It’s the result of a Frankensteinian experiment gone wrong, as a mad sorcerer and alchemist tried to create a flesh golem out of several corpses, but somehow got mixed up in the animating maelstrom during the ritual.
As flesh from hanged criminals fused together by means of forbidden magic, the alchemists soul was forced into the floating abomination, trapping it there with the lingering ghosts of murderers.
The alchemist went insane, of course, and fled into the underworld. It now stalks the dark abyss, muttering curses.
The Cube of flesh is not fully undead, the alchemist’s soul is still very much alive, but its cube-shaped vessel is haunted by the spirits of the corpses that was used to create it. It is absolutely mad by the ghost-induced schizophrenia.
- The Cube of Flesh will live forever, unless killed. It does not age
- It eats flesh (although technically it doesn’t need to) – it is always hungry
- The ghosts that haunts it can be driven away by the use of appropriate divine magic – it would ease some of its suffering
- It floats
- It can see in the dark
- It can move extremely quiet, but spends most of it’s time muttering, screaming and arguing with itself, so adventurers might very well be lucky enough to hear it before it sees them
- It can not be flanked in battle
- It attacks with bites or spitting acidic phlegm
- It’s skin is quite tough, like hardened leather – it will be tough to kill with mundane weapons!
- It is big, and weighs several tonnes
- If slain, the fleshy vessel can be searched and will reveal several magic and alchemical components of considerable worth
- It is intelligent and understand several languages, so theoretically it could be bargained with, however it is absolutely insane and hates all living things and will be extremely hard to reason with
“Are you a god?”
This is one of the very first isometric maps I drew, honouring one of my favourite movies ever – Ghostbusters. The temple of Gozer the Gozerian, with the loyal demon-dog-minions; Zuul the Gatekeeper and Vinz Clortho the Keymaster.
Reed more about Gozer on the Ghostbusters Wiki. This ancient Sumerian entity is definitely campaign-worthy stuff.
What a great movie!
I really enjoy isometric maps, probably because I am also a huge fan of isometric RPG:s like Diablo and Baldur’s Gate. Isometric maps are great at telling a story, as you can cram in quite a lot of artistic elements, more so than in top-down maps. Still, the perspective also provides the dungeon master with a good overview.
The only downside is probably that isometric maps are quite tricky to draw – at least for me!
Have you ever been to Rappan Athuk? The mega-dungeon adventure by Frog God Games is a hefty tome, and quite an iconic piece of roleplaying paraphernalia.
There are few places in Rappan Athuk’s surroundings where adventurers can rest up in relative safety, but Zelkor’s Ferry is one of them. I didn’t particularly like the map in the adventure, so I re-drew it myself. Hope you enjoy!
Feel free to download and print this map for personal use. Click the link below to download a larger version.