The House of Withered Flowers, thieves’ guild townhouse

Forget the romantic idea of thieves as roguish scoundrels, daring swashbucklers and charming tricksters. The townhouse of the thieves’ guild is a sombre place, it’s labyrinthine hallways filled with tragedy, deceit and greed.

There is no honor among thieves, only ruthless ambition and a long trail of suffering. Sooner or later this trail always lead to the House of Withered Flowers.

More peculiar places:

The Blacksand Bastion – desert stronghold

The Blacksand Bastion is the main stronghold of the Emerald Edge mercenary company. Experts at desert survival, the Emerald Edge is the only free company in the Ossuan desert. They are regularly employed as guides and caravan guards by rich merchants. The company are also able to muster larger battlefield formations when such a contract is secured.

Blacksand

The stronghold of the Emerald Edge is named after the region of the desert where it is located. Blacksand is a stretch of desert known for it’s coarse, volcanic sands and rocky terrain. It is an almost lifeless wilderness and the Blacksand Bastion is located on top of one of the few sources of water. While the Opal Trail runs through Blacksand, few caravans stop here to make camp unless absolutely necessary.

The stronghold

The Blacksand Bastion consists of two main structures: the keep and the tower barracks.

The keep houses the leadership of the Emerald Edge company; the Ra’id (major, company master) Abbad, his chief lieutenant Hazem and the master-of-arms Salman Salim. The company train new soldiers in Blacksand so there are usually around 20-50 recruits stationed in the ground floor of the keep. The keep also houses the company armory, commonly refered to as “the thousand spears”, as well as kitchen, library and treasure chambers. There is a large bath house in the keep cellar.

The fifty men of the elite Qalb unit is permanently stationed in the tower barracks. They are lead by veteran lieutenant Sol-Zaluum nicknamed “the Scorpion” by the Emerald Edge and “the Death Stalker” by their enemies.

Did you enjoy this? Discover more peculiar places:

Please go to sleep, Arthur Cobblesworth – one-page dungeon adventure

“The eccentric, but rather successful, merchant Arthur Cobblesworth died a few months ago and was buried in his mausoleum. Since then there have been reports of Arthur “howling like a bloody banshee” during dark nights. The townsfolk are afraid that Mr. Cobblesworth will wake the other dead in the cemetery, and want the player characters to go and put him to sleep again.”

Please go to sleep, Arthur Cobblesworth is a free one-page dungeon adventure by Niklas Wistedt. It can be used with any early version (or modern clone) of the classic fantasy roleplaying game.

Download the adventure pdf

Please go to sleep, Arthur Cobblesworth is free to download and print for personal use, but please do not publish it online or in print without written consent by the author.

2-page variant

Version 1.1 of the adventure includes a second page with an unkeyed map and illustration of the mausoleum.

Support my work – buy me a Ko-fi (if you want)

Let me be very clear: the content on this website is free for personal use, and it will stay that way. That said, I sometimes get questions if there’s any way to support my work. If you insist on giving me a tip my Ko-Fi account is https://ko-fi.com/pathspeculiar. This will make me very happy, but is not expected!

The Far Oasis Inn – desert fantasy isometric map

Travelling along the Opal trail under the scorching sun of the great Ossuan desert is not pleasant business. The route stretches along hundreds of miles of rolling dunes and there are few places where one can seek shelter from excruciating heat and relentless sandstorms. Still, there are such places; the Far Oasis inn being one of them.

The Far Oasis inn is located in the valley of devils (named after it’s population of desert lizards, not actual devils!) by the dry riverbed of the old Kazuun river. It provides rest and shelter for many caravans as well as the occational adventuring band in search of ancient tombs to explore and rob.

The inn has a reliable water source and is surrounded by some vegetation, earning it its name. The innkeeper Khameer took over the establishment from his father many years ago. Khameer’s wife Aala and the couple’s seven children take great pride in providing the best possible service for weary travellers and their beasts of burden. The Far Oasis inn has an excellent reputation.

Since the inn is all but crucial to anyone crossing the desert, patrons are usually very well-behaved. Getting banned from the Far Oasis could have severe impact on future expeditions.

There are two rooms for hire, however most visitor’s bring their own tents. The food is excellent, and Khameer is famous for his cold, sweet cactus-wine. Spending the cool desert evening at the terrace, sharing a keg of wine and a hookah is something travellers long for.

Dungeon Crawl – a creepy crawly dungeon trap

Not only is this trap designed to harm the victims physically, it will also teach an unfortunate tomb robber the true meaning of loss and despair.

How the trap works

The three trapdoors opens when (and only when) pressure is applied to all three simultaneously. This means that the trap will trigger only when there is a victim on top of each trapdoor, dispersing them in one pit each. Two of the victims will fall into the lairs of giant dungeon centipedes (feel free to switch to other monsters if you wish). The third one will have to helplessly watch through the iron bars as his comrades perish.

All hope might not be lost, though! Perhaps the adventurers falling into the monster lairs are mighty warriors able to fend off the abominations. Perhaps the trapped man or woman in the middle can lay down fire support by spell or missile weapon? Maybe after all there is treasure and glory at the end of this nightmare?

More dungeon traps

This trap is part of a series of isometric dungeon maps of deadly design, check out the others:

Click here for a larger version of this map. Feel free to download it and use for your personal campaign, but please din’t publish it online or in print without my consent.

Dungeon pit trap – Entombed

Do not fall into the pit, and if you do: do not pull the lever. When the three-hundred metric tonne dormant golem “LORD SLABATHOR” comes crashing down he’s not getting up again. There is little that could save you from spending eternity in this dark tomb.

This is a one-time trap, and you need to a be a special kind of stupid to trigger the full severity of it. How curious are your players?

Click here for full a size image.

For more nasty dungeon traps, check out Boulder Dash and Leap of Faith.

Isometric castle barbican map – Rosehip Gatehouse

Someone, or something, has ripped the doors from the hinges and killed all the guards at the Rosehip Gatehouse. Do you stay and investigate, or push further into the keep? What horrors await in the dark castle corridors?

Just a small isometric map of a castle barbican. Suitable as hand out to the players.

If you want a larger castle map, feel free to check out the Medieval Castle Map I drew earlier this year.

Would you like to try drawing your own isometric maps? Have a look at the isometric map tutorial.

Dungeon pit trap – “a Leap of Faith”

Yet another unfair and deadly dungeon trap to make your players hate you. The “Leap of Faith” trap consists of two pits with spiked floors. The first one is easily spotted and likewise easy to jump over unless you are encumbered or wearing heavy armor.

The other pit, however, is more sinister as it is covered by a trapdoor that is activated by pressure. Jumping over the first pit and landing on the other side will therefore trigger a nasty surprise.

The mechanism of the trapdoor can be locked by turning any of the two torches 45 degrees clockwise. This is apparent for a character examining the torch holders. Turning the torch will temporarily deactivate the trapdoor and make it safe to stand on for one turn (10 minutes) as the torch slowly moves back to its upright position. The trapdoor mechanism makes a sound when the torch is turned. The characters may hear this sound if the party is otherwise quiet. The mechanic sound could give a careful party a hint about the trap.

The Dungeon Master should probably place some treasure at the bottom of the covered pit trap. Perhaps the remains and equipment of a not-so-lucky thief?

A word of warning on traps in roleplaying games

Keep in mind that some of the traps like this one and the rolling boulder trap will almost certainly kill characters that walk into them. You might want to consider the experience level of your players (players, not characters) before implementing them into your own dungeon adventures.

Players experienced in old-school dungeoneering are usually careful when exploring. They have a decent chance to find or forebode the traps. OSR games (Old School Reinassance, clones of early eighties D&D) ususally doesn’t have rules for spotting or avoiding traps, but relies on the players figuring it out.

Less experienced players, or players used to later versions of D&D, might find such traps extremely unfair and get turned off if their characters die an instant, gruesome death.

To tone down the difficulty of this trap, you as a Dungeon Master can choose to:

  • roll skill checks to see if the characters can spot the trapdoor,
  • allow for saves or ability checks to avoid or mitigate damage,
  • substitute the spikes for water

Like my art? Follow me on Instagram for more frequent posting

Boulder Dash – rolling boulder dungeon trap

Traps should be unfair, deadly and combined. The poor sods triggering the boulder trap (by opening the doors) will get a chance to dive into the alcoves for cover. Too bad for them the alcoves are really pit traps.

Depending on your playstyle, you can either let players roll suitable saving throws (such as reflex or vs. breath) to avoid the different traps, or you could go for the more grim approach of OSR games – “no saves, if you didn’t look for traps it’s on you”.

You could also reward clever, quick and creative thinking, spellcasting, etc.

Players who approach this situation carefully, examining the alcoves, should be able to find the pit traps, and perhaps realize something sinister awaits them on the other side of the door. I would probably not allow the mechanism of the rolling boulder trap to be found, but that’s really up to you as the dungeon master.

I didn’t have a specific reward in mind for surviving this situation, but if you want, there could of course be a hidden cache or an important inscription behind the boulder.

Option: you could also decide that the boulder is an illusion, and enjoy watching the player characters needlessly throw themselves into the pit traps 😀

Draw your own maps!

Would you like to draw your own maps? It’s a lot of fun! I’ve done several tutorials to help you get started. Check them out here!

Vertical Underground Necropolis Map

I’m working on some kind of conceptual framework/campaign environment for my fantasy-horror themed dungeon maps. I wanted an environment where maps like Arcane Chambers and SVART GRIFT could be placed without feeling out of context.

The idea is an ancient civilization obsessed with death, digging deep into the earth to reach their dark god, and then committing mass suicide in order to be “blessed” with the breath of undeath. A huge necropolis filled with absolute horrors and blasphemy.

Background

In ancient times, this civilization was flourishing, and its realm was vast, centered on what today is a putrid swamp. Its scholars and magi and warriors were unmatched, and the people were living in prosperity. But the civilization drew to it the attention of the arch-demon ABZU ABYZOU, a necrotic duke of Hell.

Slowly, ABZU ABYZOU mainpulated people of all castes. Initially small cults started to form among the poor, but within decades the demon’s whispers reached the nobles and even the mighty Czar. Worship of the demon came with great rewards for those who submitted themselves, and ABZU ABYZOU demanded little tribute of its followers. At first.

It took several generations before the arch demon decided to take the next step of its plan. Natural disasters struck the lands: storms and drought and great fires. Insect swarms ravaged the fields and villages and even the capital. And the demon whispered salvation into the ears of his followers, and convinced them that they needed to take shelter within the earth itself. So they dug.

The great excavation

An entire civilization relocated from a now barren surface into the sheltering depths of the earth. It was an incredible achievement by its architects and labourers, even considering they got infernal assistance. During the great excavation, the teachings of ABZU ABYZOU became more grim. While the darkness of below might provide shelter, it is not a place for human life. You should bury the dead, not the living. And so slowly the absurdity of undeath became less absurd. After years in the darkness, the people did not only consider unlife, they yearned for it. Anything to relieve the pain and melancholy of a life devoid of the light of the sun, the wind in the branches and the memory of a gentle spring rain. They had become obsessed with the thought of death and dying. It manifested in everything – art, architecture, magic and worship.

They were ready to die, and to rise again immortal.

The night of relief

So came the night of the great turning. A ritual mass suicide orchestrated by the priests of the Ashen Basilika, the Czar Necromancer and the members of the Grand Council. When a bleak sun rose over the Wraithbog, ten thousand ghouls and ghasts rose in the necropolis below it.

This is still just early thoughts, notes and sketches, but thought I should share it so you can follow my trail of ideas from the start.

I will probably not develop this with any specific game system in mind, but needless to say it would fit most OSR-games, or the grim darkness of artpunky MÖRK BORG.

This is not so much a map as a mindmap, and absolutely not to scale!