Of all the tropes of fantasy, the Underdark of Dungeons & Dragons campaign setting Forgotten Realms is probably one of my favorites. It is a concept I often borrow for my own world building.
My own, loosly defined, fantasy world has an extensive underdark filled with both wonder and horror – a world beneath the world, usually referred to as “The Underside”. While large parts of the Underside is a pitch black, mostly lifeless labyrinthine wasteland, there exists also beacons of life and (to some degree) civilization. It is a vast, dark cosmos in which subterranean societies thrive beneath the feet of an unsuspecting world.
To the people of the above, this place is alien and terrifying and very dangerous.
The underside of the world has it’s own sprawling network of connections, much like the roads of the “surface”. Tunnels stretch for thousands of miles, and are used for trade and travel between the different creatures and settlements of the inky blackness.
One such “road” is the endless tunnels of the Stygian Trail, and to use it means paying tribute to whoever currently occupies the ancient toll houses. It is contested territory – bitter wars and countless skirmishes has been fought over the Stygian Trail and its fortified tollhouses. This map shows one of those toll houses, with enough room to house a small band of humanoid guards and plenty of storage for tribute.
Getting past the small fortress will not be cheap, and the toll master might not settle with gold coins – there are more valuable resources in the dark.
Click here for a full sized-version of the image.
Oh, and if I’ve inspired you to run underdark adventures of your own, make sure you pick up a copy of Veins of the Earth by Patrick Stuart – it’s by far the best module I’ve ever read on the subject!
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A small map I made with dungeon masters in mind. It should be quite easy to fit into any typical fantasy/horror dungeon! Feel free to download it for personal use, to spice up your next adventure.
The MURDER HOUSE consists of a Prison Wing, where the Sacrificer keeps his unfortunate prisoners, and a Murder Wing where they are offered as sacrifice to the dark lord.
I’m working on a project describing a cult of snake worshipping knights – the Ordo Vipera. Thought I’d share the map of their chapter house, should anyone want to use it for their own campaign in the meantime. There’s much love and labour behind the map, so I hope you’ll enjoy it!
Click here for a larger image.
This is (one of the levels of) the underground chapter house of the Ordo Vipera – the Knights Viper. The Knights Viper are one of several knightly orders in my world, and quite likely the one that is viewed upon with most suspicion.
While not necessarily “evil”, the Knights Viper are secretive, non-transparent (more so than other orders) and has many hidden agendas. They rarely intervene openly with politics or the general struggle for power but tend instead to keep a watchful eye from the shadows. They do not have the martial striking capacity of some of the other knightly orders, but knowledge is power, and they use it well. The serpent knights know secrets that could potentially topple kings and queens should they be revealed.
Snakes, especially vipers, are revered by the Ordo Vipera. The inner sanctum of the chapter house is the lair of a large female viper referred to simply as “mother”. Mother is very old and very intelligent. She whispers advice to the knight-brothers, and her offspring forms tight bonds with them. Mother shares her venom with the knights, and they are considered to be the most proficient alchemists in the realm (some would rather call them poisoners, but that is not the full truth).
At any given time there are nine brothers of the Knights Viper (each filling a specific role, such as Master Librarian, Keeper of the arms, Apothecary, etc.) and nine squire-acolytes. Ruling them is the chapter master – the Lord of Scales. The order commands a host of two hundred men-at-arms.
A vertical map of a deep space radio relay beacon. I’m working on “Termination Shock” – a mini campaign/setting for OSR games, where we set off in the solar system, exploring planets and asteroids in the wake of a cosmic storm that took out most of our space-faring technology. These radio beacons will be highly important in the setting, as described here:
“For the last hundred years or so, cosmic phenomenons, radiation fields and electrical storms has increased in our system, and it has made communication over vast distances much harder than it used to be. We now rely heavily on a network of radio relay satellites to facilitate transmissions between planets, stations and ships. Bandwidth is low. We cannot submit video, and images arrive distorted. Since the cosmic storm, all of these satellites needs to be repaired.”
I intentionally wanted adventuring in space to be a quite scary, silent and isolated activity, hence the above setup. I don’t want Earth to be just a call away. Phoning home should be hard, and establishing contact with other ships or planetary outposts should feel like an accomplishment.
Deep in the Kuiper belt – the great asteroid field of the outer solar system, the Kuiper’s Cantina bar and diner can be found. A popular place for starship crews to rest, drink and stock-up on goods, Kuiper’s Cantina is well-known among all space-farers and astronaut adventurers.
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Built in Sweden, and considered one of the first true exploration vessels capable of manned missions beyond Mars, the HMS Nordenskiöld is mankinds greatest explorer, and our biggest hope to bring us answers to the riddles of the great unknown.
Captain Palander and his crew of sixteen (incluing legendary adventurers like Giacomo Bove and Ernst Almquist) have not seen Earth in eleven years (only restockning occasionally at the Martian colonies), as they tirelessly explore the moons of Jupiter and Saturn.
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Latest blog post:
A cut-through, vertical map of LUNA NRC3, one of three nuclear ray cannons installed on Earth’s moon. This one, unfortunately, is infected by alien space goo, and is no longer under control by earth. Better get some space adventurers there to investigate, right?
Click here to download a larger image for personal use.
Isometric map of an ancient tomb, holding the remains (and spirits?) of a dark knight. Fill it with traps and treasure (and why not a couple of undeads?) and send your players on a classic D&D grave robbing adventure!
Click here for a larger version of the image.
Would you like to draw your own isometric maps? It’s a bit tricky when you first get started, but with a bit of training you’ll get the hang of it. I’ve written a free tutorial on it, that you might find helpful! Click here to get to the tutorial.
The Slaughterpit is one of the entrances to Hell, located deep in the infernal wasteland of Gol. It can be descended to gain access to the domain of the demon lord Byleth. His realm is a vast, dark butchery.
A pound of flesh for Byleth!Pledge of the self-mutilating cult of Byleth
The hanging witnesses are dead and flesh-less, but sees all who enter, and scream their names.
The eyes are Byleth’s, and if you let him witness you before your descent, his gaze will be on you as you travel the abyss. It could be beneficial, but also very dangerous.
In the cage is Namtar, a lesser demon that angered Byleth, and now serves a thousand year punishment as head witness of the Slaughterpit.
The biggest challenge of getting into Hell is climbing down the great spiked chain. It is long, and slippery with blood. It will take days to descend it.
You may download the map for personal use, click here for a larger image.
A vertical map of the lair of the Bloodwood Bandits. Perfect for use with your favorite fantasy RPG!
I’ve always been fascinated by underground tunnel’s and lairs, and as I just recently watched the great documentary “The Vietnam War” (seriously, watch it!) I guess I was somewhat inspired by the guerilla tunnel warfare of the Viet Cong.
This underground bandit lair has a lookout at the top, and several arrangements to quickly seal off tunnels in case of an attack. It has enough living space (and beds) to host the gang of nine bandits, and also a nifty excape tunnel. It even has a lavatory!
Feel free to download or print the map for personal use, click here for a larger version.