Undersea Base

MapSizedForBlogThis isn’t my best-looking map by any stretch of the imagination. I struggled to find a way to shade it while making it obvious that the dungeon is situated underwater, and I had to fall back on some free vectors of the lighthouse and rocks that form the surface because I completely forgot to draw them in. At some point in the (probably near) future I’ll go back and draw this up with a bit more polish (including fixing the wonky dome at the bottom).

Disclaimers aside, it’s probably fairly obvious that this map takes a large chunk of inspiration from the Bioshock series and Sealab 2020. I doubt it’s ever something I’ll get to run my players through, but it was fun to design and once I’ve populated it I may write it up as a free standalone adventure.

The elevator descends on chains from the lighthouse above through a clear tube that allows a perfect view of the darkening ocean surrounding it and the glowing lights of the complex far below. The elevator opens up into a large atrium with more tubes that branch off into the sea, containing walkways that lead further in to the base. The Overseer Lives in the domed chamber at the top of the base, with a direct passage to the atrium that is guarded at all times. The chamber below his contains a private elevator that leads directly to the hangar dome on the seabed.

The westernmost passage from the atrium leads up to the guards’ room and down to a elevator used to transport captives and criminals down to the dungeon built in the to floor of the ocean. This elevator shaft contains huge sliding steel doors above an airlock door of sorts that opens directly in to the ocean. In the event of an attack on the base or an uprising in the dungeon the steel doors slam shut and the airlock opens, allowing the water to rush in to the base and flood the dungeon below.

The second level of the base contains general living quarters for those who live and work here – barracks, kitchens, dining rooms and the like,

The bottom floor of the main complex leads to individual labs and research centres that are suspended from the complex in a circle that expands out beyond the dungeon and hangar below. Each of these research centres can be jettisoned from the complex in the event of an emergency, when they will fall to the seabed below.

The large domed structure on the base of the ocean is the hanger, which contains the Overseers fleet of aquatic vehicles and the bulk of his weapons cache.

I’m a little torn when it comes to populating this map, truth be told. It obviously lends itself well to a scifi setting, and could definitely be made to work in a more Jules Verne-ian steampunk-feeling world. My group play in a traditional (ish) fantasy setting, though, and I’m really curious to see what I can do to this base to make it work in that kind of world without feeling anachronistic. That’s for a future post, though – along with a better quality map.

The Hall of Whispering Gods - No Grid

The Hall of Whispering Gods

The Hall of Whispering Gods - No Grid
The Hall of Whispering Gods – No Grid

The Hall of Whispering Gods serves as the last test for initiates wishing to gain access to the mysteries of the Ancients. The long, narrow corridor is lined with statues of the Ancients embedded in the stone of the walls themselves. Each statue whispers unholy secrets to those who pass, testing their will and their sanity and leaving them either dead or wise beyond belief.

Their long walk is observed by Elders and tutors from the balcony rooms set to either side of the hallway. Their discussions are not for the ears of the initiates, but their judgement will be cast down in the ritual chamber that lies at the end of the walk. There initiates will either be welcomed in to the fold, or else sacrificed to the Ancients to atone for their unworthiness.

The Hall of Whispering Gods with Grid
The Hall of Whispering Gods – w/ Grid

The Hall of Whispering Gods was a quick freehand sketch, hence it not quite lining up to the grid. I also tried a different approach to shading the borders – I’m aware that my maps look a little too much like cheap knockoffs of Dyson’s fantastic creations, and I’m trying to find my own style. This isn’t it.

If you use this map, please do let me know!

The Tomb of the Sun



Click to embiggen

Not a gaming map this time, but a side elevation of the buried tomb that serves as the location for the novel I’m currently writing.

An ancient pyramid that served as the final resting place of the Sun God, the Tomb of the Sun was buried by the sands of the desert centuries ago. The God’s riches and weapons are encased within the rooms of the pyramid, protected by magical traps and guardians that the Sun must traverse in his death in order to return to life.


The Sun’s Tomb

The bottom chamber is a large, ornately decorated room that stores offerings made to the Sun on his entombment along with his physical body. Upon his resurrection his body will return to life and begin its journey through the tests of the pyramid before regaining his Soul Jar in the Chamber of the Gods.

The rooms on either side of the Sun’s Tomb chamber contain more riches and offerings, as well as the bodies of those sacrificed to serve the Sun in his death. The elevator that bears up the altar bearing the Sun Jar is inaccessible from this room when raised, though the shaft is visible as it opens directly in to the roof of this chamber.

The Labyrinth

This floor is dedicated entirely to an enormous Labyrinth that the Sun must traverse, seeking the stairs at the centre that will take him to the next level.

The ‘centre’ of the maze is not in the centre of the floor, as the shaft bearing the elevator rises through this room. It is walled off entirely. There is another walled-off section that contains the shaft below the Clockwork Web.

The Banquet Hall

A giant banquet hall that contains a large table decked out with a feast fit for the gods. The food is magically preserved but contains a poison deadly to mortals. This serves both as the first meal for the newly risen god and, more practically, a trap for unwary thieves.

The King’s Chamber

The King’s Chamber sits directly above the banquet hall, and contains the haptic jars belonging to the dead god. He will need the contents of these jars to complete his body before he can retake his Soul Jar.

The Clockwork Web

To the east of the banquet hall lies a large cavern carved in to the structure of the pyramid. A large shaft falls away to a naturally-occurring lake beneath the pyramid. To cross the cavern the god must traverse a giant web constructed of fine chains, and fend off the spider-like clockwork guardians that lurk above it.

The Menagerie

The final challenge room of the pyramid, this chamber contains the petrified remains of the god’s menagerie. Magical beasts of all kinds are entombed here – manticora, wyverns, giant scorpions, and the like – and will wake if any light touches them.

The Shrine

A simple shrine in which the Sun must purify himself before regaining his soul.

The Chamber of the Gods

The top chamber contains the Sun’s Soul Jar, placed atop its altar and raised to the room by a giant mechanical elevator that lifts up through a shaft in the centre of the pyramid from the large chamber at the base. On regaining the Soul Jar the Sun will open the giant doors that form the roof of the Chamber of the Gods and ascend back to the world of the living to rule once more. In the novel the characters break in to the tomb through the roof of the pyramid that now sits level with the sands of the desert, entering directly into the Chamber of the Gods before the elevator collapses and sends them plummeting into the depths of the tomb

The walls of the pyramid are filled with pipes filled with water and oil. A feature not shown on this map is the extensive mechanism that also runs through the outer walls that utilises the energy of the underground river to circulate lubricating oil to the various clockwork devices throughout the pyramid, including the intricate locking system that seals the roof/doors.

At some point I’ll have to draw a more useful top-down map of the pyramid. Before I do that though I should probably finish writing the damn novel.

The Labyrinth of the Horned God


I’ve always had something of a fascination with mazes and labyrinths. When Tomb Raider 2 was released back in 1997 I spent most of my time running around in Lara’s maze (as well as locking the butler in the fridge). Similarly, my favourite part of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was the third task and Harry’s encounters in the giant hedge maze.

This labyrinth was more of a creative exercise than anything I plan to use in my D&D game. I wanted to design a large labyrinth that wasn’t a traditional circular or square design. Initially I tried to hide a dragon’s face in the design, but in my attempts to make it less obvious I also destroyed any resemblance to a dragon. Instead I was left with a vaguely horned face, which became the titular Horned God.

At the centre of the labyrinth a narrow staircase descends in to darkness, allowing the truly worthy to enter the Horned God’s temple and the glorious horrors that await it there. If I were to place this labyrinth in a game I would probably populate it with a whole host of dark creatures and mind-altering magics, but as this was just a bit of fun I haven’t put any thought in to that.

Feel free to use this design in your own games, and please do let me know how it went if you do!

The Kua-Toa Caverns Thumbnail

Dungeon Map – The Kua-Toa Caverns

The Kua-Toa Caverns

Click to embiggen

This week I found myself having to run a game two nights in a row. We’ve only just begun our campaign, and one player couldn’t make it to the first session. She also didn’t have a character yet, and had never played the game before, so I thought it best to get her over for a semi-solo mission (my girlfriend, who is also in the group, agreed to play a one-off character to accompany the new player on her first quest) in order to go through character development, teach her how to play, and get her levelled up.

It also had the added bonus of allowing me to develop some more of the world (both based on what happened in the game and the character she ended up creating) and to thread some plot elements in to the ongoing campaign that will be introduced naturally by another player, not through me in the shape of an NPC or a fudged Insight check that leads to inappropriate exposition.

So, with very little prep I sketched out a rough map and populated it – with Kua-Toa, because they’re hideous and I’e always felt like they don’t get used enough. Obviously with two level 1 characters going up against them I had to scale them back in difficulty, but it allowed me to introduce them to the campaign very early on so that I can have some fun with them when the PCs are more able to face them – deep in the Underdark, at full power, rather than weakened and starving on the surface.

If you like the look of the map, please feel free to download the higher-resolution versions. I’ve provided colour and black-and-white options, with and without grids, and a brief overview of how I used each room in the dungeon for this very specific encounter. Of course, you’re free to do whatever you want with it – and if you do use the map, I’d love to hear from you about it in the comments.