• Gondgûl: Finishing the Map and Building the City

    by  • April 28, 2013 • RPGs • 1 Comment

    Because I was in a rush, I needed to complete the map of Gondgûl quickly before taking it to an office supply store for printing. At this point, the only thing left is to add buildings and labels. I start with the dock warehouses, the gold colored buildings around the harbor. For these, I use the polygon tool to draw in oddly shaped buildings crowded into the available space.. Next come buildings left from the Pharazanic age, in green.  The round, blue towers were built when the Empire ruled and in the couple of centuries since that time. I use a wide stroke to indicate sloping roofs, and give them a little drop shadow to indicate height. Beneath, and around all those buildings, I used a complex, dynamic square brush with lots angle and distance jitter, to quickly draw in the smaller houses, hovels, stables, shops, taverns, inns and outbuildings that crowd into the remaining urban space.  A full description of this technique can be found on fantasticmaps.com. For yesterday’s game, I had the map printed at an office supply store, in color on 11″ by 17″ paper and laminated for $11. In the future, I may spring to have it printed in the full 24″ by 36″, which will cost upwards of $50 and more to be laminated.


    Gondgûl. Click image for full size version.

    In a bit of a rush, I need to finish sketching out some potential campaign fronts. I’m going with four to start: Red Hawk Expeditionary, Skull Island, the Chaos Jihad and the Forest War. Most of my work focuses on the first one, because Red Hawk Expeditionary is the company all of the Player Characters work for on some basis.  Skull Island, which is focused on the small island next to Gondgul, and within the city itself, is also heavily detailed. The work that goes into detailing four campaign fronts pays off for me, because within the grim portents I have clues, rumors and the basis of conversations with NPCs that could lead the Player Characters into new directions.

    Saturday morning before I head off the print shop and Gigabytes for the game, I spend fifteen minutes with the Rule of Three (which I immediately broke, of course) to give names to things I might need in the game.

    • Five Great Expeditionary Companies: Black Watch, Razor Talon, the Fire Swords, Bear & Eagle, and Red Hawk
    • Three Great Religions: ?????, God of Trade; Kratos, the God of Battle and Death; ???????, God of Fortune
    • Three Great Cults: The Lord of Fangs, the Lord of Death, and the Lord of Pleasure and Pain
    • Three Great Wizards: Kaarlo Greybeard, Erulissë the Unseen, and Ailíse Farghas ‘the Flame’
    • Three Great Enemies: Chaos barbarians from the far North, the Pharazanic Kingdoms, and the Empire
    • Three Great External Threats: Germanic tribesmen, Orc Raiders, Celtic tribesmen
    • Three Great Internal Threats: Goblins feeding on food supplies, Derro living in the deep dwarven holds, and Gulmorgoth the Black, a dragon the Derro chained up.
    • Three Great Mysteries: Skull Island, giant stone skull, large, missing central eye; The hidden dwarven ruins beneath Gondgul; and, the legend of the Kraken
    • Three Great Taverns: The Ribald Thorn, the Queen’s Draught, and The Low Man
    • Three Great Coaching Inns: The Shark’s Head Inn, Durgim’s Rest, and the Klepzig Arms
    • Three Great Songs: “The Maiden of the Sea”, “The Long Road Home, “Seven Stars at Sunrise”
    • Three Great Bards: Pendrell “the Vain”, Melchior Mannfreid, and the Celt Téadóir Scannláin

    Some of these (Bear & Eagle, Black Watch, The Lord of Fangs, Kaarlo Greybeard, the Goblins, the Chaos barbarians) already have significance from the campaign fronts I’ve created. All of them can easily be adjusted if the Players come up with something better. Some will probably never be used in this campaign. Others will help me connect the dots after I make up things on the fly: Gulmorgoth the Black, for example, helps explain the possible origin of the dragon whelp that fried half of the party during the game. I left the names of the Gods blank in case the Players have something to say about it. Andrew Apold, for example, suggested Kratos for the God of Battle that his Barbarian worships. Works for me. 🙂

    Next up… Session #1, or why good things can come in small packages.


    Michael has been writing professionally for print, television and the internet for thirty years. As a Senior Producer at CNN International, he examined the future of technology with dozens of brilliant scientists, philosophers and entrepreneurs on the acclaimed series Future Summit. Before that, in the CNN International newsroom, he helped lead the production of award winning coverage of news like the 9/11 attacks, the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the devastating 2004 tsunami in Asia. As a director, he has created a dozen short films in the last seven years. He lives with his wife, dog, four cats and two horses in the suburbs of Atlanta.


    One Response to Gondgûl: Finishing the Map and Building the City

    1. Pingback: Gondgûl: The Map for a Dungeon World Campaign | Autotard

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