Category Archives: maps

What Happens at the Castle, Stays at the Castle

Evernight Keep 1a

Part of being a dungeon master is the responsibility for creating the dungeon.  Now I do intend to fully explain the events of the siege of Castle Evernight in a future Saturday D&D post, but today I want to show you my dungeon setting, the Keep of the Duke of Passage, Dane Evernight.  This is me thinking like an insane architect to build a tall, spindly castle that no real-life king or duke would ever try to live in.  But insane as it was, it had to be drawn to scale and the inner workings had to be mapped out on grid paper where every little square represented a space of 5 feet by 5 feet.

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Level one shows the areas you would enter coming in through the front gate.  Colored-in areas represent the solid stone from which this castle is built as well as the rock spire it was precariously perched upon.   The usual dungeon-master map symbols apply.  The little empty rectangle thingy blocking passageways and interrupting walls is to be interpreted as a door.  You can also see that to visit on horseback requires your trusty steed to be able to climb stairs.  So, unless you have a verily dexterous and unusual horse, you should probably ride in griffin-back or dragon-back.

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Moving to Level 2 brings you to where the Duke’s Great Hall would receive you as a visitor.  There are also places you would like to get to, especially if you are a teenage boy, like the harem and the bathing pool attached to the harem, and maybe the Magic Lab, but you will most likely not be allowed into those places.  But you see the dark spots in the walls?  Those are the garderobes.  You probably will be allowed access there, because, when you gotta go, you gotta go, and that is the proper place to go.  Medieval castles have primitive plumbing.

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Level 3 is the level I would most want to see if I were touring this place myself.  Not only is it the place that has the library in it, but it houses the limner’s studio, and the limner is the resident painter, picture-maker, and white-washer of fences and garderobes.

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Level 4 contains the “Party Central” places that every highly social and only mildly psychotic nobleman seeks to spend his schmooze time.  There’s a ballroom for dancing, a solarium for getting sunburn when you drink too much wizard’s ale and dance naked in the sunshine for too long, and a hall of mirrors for admiring the way the sunburn makes your behind glow bright red.

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Level 5 is getting up to the top of the towers.  In a vertical dungeon like this one, this should be nearing the adventure climax.  That was not how it happened, however.  I will tell you more about that in another post.  This is where the belfry bats and the Duke’s treasures are stored.

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By the time you reach the Summit of the Keep, you are beginning to think that something is seriously and morbidly wrong with this Castle.  This is where you will find the Evil Doctor Zorgo and the animated remains of Duke Dane Evernight.   And golem labs next to sarcophagus rooms?  Something has gone terribly wrong here.   But don’t have nightmares about it, or anything.  Rest assured that Gandy Rumspot and Mira the Kalashtar have already solved this problem or I wouldn’t be telling you about it.  Dungeon masters, at least the good ones, never reveal a secret before the dice are rolled.

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Filed under Dungeons and Dragons, humor, making cardboard castles, maps, Paffooney, plans, surrealism

Mapping the Stories

Norwall map

By golly, I finished it.  It may not look like it, but this map of a place that really only exists in my memory and imagination took a lot of work.  I surveyed the town and made a set of rough map sketches back in 1994.  Some of the places on this map don’t exist any more, while a few never existed at all in any real sense.  I finished drawing it out in pen and ink yesterday, February 15th, 2016.

This map is Norwall, Iowa, population 275 (If you count the squirrels… and we had a lot of squirrels in this town… in more ways than one).  The map is attributed to Bill Stuyvessant, known to the locals as “Cherries Bill” because he loved cherries more than any other fruit and it was the exact same color of red he had on both his cheeks and nose.  For the last decade of his life, the 1960’s, he lived alone.  His wife died in 1958.  His only son, Christian, died near Bastogne in December of 1944 at the Battle of the Bulge.  He lived alone with a house full of stacks of old newspapers.    It is believed by many that he was a sorcerer and knew practically everything.  Some even said he was God.  The map probably had to originate with him because it shows the locations of key settlements in the Faery Kingdom of Tellosia, which of course is known only to practicers of magic and those with vivid imaginations.

Norwall is the setting for my hometown novels series.  They are not exactly science fiction and not exactly fantasy, but have heavy doses of both.  They are actually about real life as it can be warped by imagination and dreaming.  You can make the argument that they are surrealism.  The four pictured above are completed novels, except for When the Captain Came Calling on the right.  It is undergoing a complete rewrite and is only about 50% complete.  I have one published novel in this series through I-Universe, an imprint of Penguin Books.

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I also have a number of novel projects in the planning and rough-draft stages that are also set in this little imaginary Iowa town.  I am continuing to write and expand it all as time continues relentlessly forward.

Francois

 

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Filed under humor, maps, novel plans, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney, surrealism

Gosh I Love Maps!

There are so many places in this world (or maybe out of this world) to visit and become a part of, that it really helps to have a map to navigate the places (especially imaginary places) with the mind’s blurry eye.

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If you are ever lifted up into the stratosphere in your house by a twister, bonked on the head so you see wicked witches flying on brooms, and set down in a place filled with magical dwarfs called Munchkins… the above map might prove very useful.  I found it’s like as a kid to be thoroughly helpful as I read not only Frank L. Baum’s first book, but also his second and fifth books.  It really helps to know where you are in Oz.

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Edmond Hamilton’s hero, Captain Future, needed a map of worlds like Futuria as well as Mars, the Moon, and Venus in his 1940’s Science Fiction Adventures from Captain Future Magazine.

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This is Fritz Lieber’s city of Lankhmar where giant Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser commit numerous acts of stealing, wenching, fighting and drinking.  A map like this would help them in their many dealings with wizards, magicians, and strange beings.

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This map could easily prove to be the salvation of Robert E. Howard’s hero, Conan the Barbarian.  The well-traveled Conan was a peerless fighter, but not much of a thinker.  So barring the odd smart girlfriend and witty, fast-talking sidekick, Conan couldn’t do without it.20151209_110653

This whole map thing was inspired by this old book that I have thumbed through so much the pages are falling out.  It contains maps of Middle Earth, Pern, Pellucidar, Atlantis, the planet Arrakis from Dune, and Narnia.

It is now the inspiration for my holiday art project.  I will create my own imaginary map from my hometown novels, a map of Norwall, Iowa, that will include the homes of many characters, fairy battlefields and secret lairs, the Gingerbread House where the witch lives, and more.  As you can see… I have only just begun.

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Filed under humor, maps, Paffooney, Uncategorized