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!

Abutment of the Nephrite Walkway – isometric map

The city of Amun-Shar, “The jewel of the East” was once the pinnacle of human splendor. It was the cultural capital of the eastern continents and envied by kings and queens and emperors and tsars of all other realms. The great spires of Amun-Shar carried libraries of vast knowledge – science and magicks alike. Its nobles were rich beyond comprehension, and the bustling bazaars were filled with everything any man could ever desire.

But the nobles grew arrogant, as they so often do.

A caste-system started to evolve as the nobles, encouraged by the (just as rich) priesthood, began to regard their wealth not as a reward from the gods but as evidence of their own divinity. And so they rose, and built a city on top of the city to never come in contact with the rabble of ordinary people. They built “The Nephrite Walkway” – a sprawling system of jade-adorned bridges connecting the many noble towers and spires of the city. Now they could walk around the city without having to share streets with the lowly commoners. They were truly the god-masters of Amun-Shar.

And the commoners grew angry, as they so often do.

In time, the ordinary citizens of Amun-Shar grew more and more resentful of their masters. At the boiling point they rose up to slay the aristocracy and cast them from their towers. The spire-dwellers fought back with all the magic power they had stored in their minarets, and on a cataclysmic night the city crashed to the ground, drenched in sulfur and burning in hellfire. The carnage was absolute. The angel of death swung his scythe over nobles and commoners with no discrimination.

Today Amun-Shar is a ruin city, a whisper of its former glory. Vengeful and angry spirits dwell in its streets and structures, jealously guarding the treasure and knowledge that lies buried in this enormous desert tomb. In a ironic turn of events the Nephrite Walkway and its abutment towers are haunted by the ghosts of commoners and nobles alike.

To download a larger map for personal use, click here.

Miranda’s terrible dream – isometric dungeon map

Some dreams are real and dangerous, as mankind’s imagination can breathe life into beings and places most sinister. This is what happened when Miranda van Sonner dreamt about the Rickety Man in the Sandstone quarter. Miranda is no more, but her unfortunate creations are very much still in existence, and poses terrible danger.

When and where the veil between our world and the dreamscape is thin, due to arcane manipulation or vivid imaginaton, we can slip into these dimensional pockets. What awaits us on the other side is sometimes strange and wonderful, and sometimes wicked and dreadful. A creature like the Rickety Man can latch onto a dreamer, and follow her back to the waking world, or keep her trapped in his eternal domain. Other, more benign entities can offer help and knowledge. Some dreamscapes can even hide powerful artifacts and wondrous treasure.

The Sandstone Quarter is a silent and arid place. It floats in a vast, cosmic void. There is a constant, gentle wind that whisps up dust and sand. A withered plant rustles softly in this wind and dried sloeberries grow from it.

The buildings are larger on the inside than their appearances suggest. There are winding stairwells and many strange, empty rooms inside.

A strange portal in the Sandstone Quarter activates when the veil is thin, and allows travel from the waking world – but does not allow the dreamer to go back unless the Rickety Man grants it.

The Rickety Man is an insidious being. He is thin, dried out, and has a piercing gaze. He is not always here, but fades in and out of existence.

This map was drewn with artists like Errol Otus and M. C. Escher in mind, as they inspire me greatly.

Click here to download a larger version of the map, for personal use.

The Scarbrough family crypt – dungeon map

In the spirit of Halloween, I drew this map picturing the horrible crypt of the depraved Scarbrough family. Should provide a spooky adventure location for dungeon masters wanting to add a little horror to their campaign.

The crypt is the final (un)resting place of the noble Scarbrough family. These awful people terrorized the countryside in life, and continues to do so in death.

In their mansion in the moorlands, the Scarbroughs practised foul necromancy and other perversities. Lord Edgar Scarbrough and his cousin and wife Elsbeth had five children, each newborn more sinister and depraved than the previous – culminating in little Pamela who’s cruelty became the stuff of moorlands legend.

The family sealed their fate in a grand ceremony, the “Scarbrough Bloodbath”, where they murdered the villagers of Worthon and reanimated them as ghouls, and then committed ritual suicide in the family crypt. The newly risen ghouls buried the Scarbroughs according to their instructions, and then sealed the crypt.

The ghouls of Scarbrough estate roam the vicinity of the mansion and attacks (and eats) any intruders, keeping the crypt safe from inquisitors and grave robbers alike. The ghosts of the family haunt the countryside, and most feared of them all is little Pamela – commonly referred to as “the tooth fairy”.

Click here for a larger version of the map

Click here for a version without the legend

Arcane Chambers and Svart Grift dungeon map

I decided to merge two of my previous dungeon maps – the Arcane Chambers and Svart Grift tomb. I also took the opportunity to add some illustrations to set the scene for whatever adventures awaits in this dark place.

These maps work well together, as they are both leaning quite heavily towards dark fantasy, somewhat bordering horror. This asset should work well for OSR-games like Lamentations of the Flame Princess or D&D campaigns set in a grim world.

I hope you enjoy the result!

Click here for a larger image!

Stay a while on the site, there’s more content to browse:

SVART GRIFT – ancient tomb dungeon map

“Svart Grift” is Swedish, and means “Black Grave”. This map pictures an ancient burial tomb filled with secrets, traps and probably a few restless dead. I hope you will enjoy it – I’m sure your player’s wont! 🙂

Click here for a larger version of the map.

Like this map? Check out some more of my posts!

MURDER HOUSE – fantasy/horror dungeon map

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.

The Slaughterpit – Gate to Hell

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.

Impossible temple?

I think I’m going insane, which I guess would be fitting, considering the theme of this map. I’ve been staring at it for so long my brain is turning into liquid, and can’t for the life of me understand the “gap” marked red in the image.

Is the map cursed by the Great Sleeper in the sunken city of fucked up geometry?

Leave a comment if you can help me solve this riddle.

Edit: so I got an answer from a friendly fellow in a Facebook group. I’ll leave the post here anyway, for your amusement.