Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Slaying Stone Kiris Dahn Map

There wasn't any budget for new art or maps for The Slaying Stone, but I definitely needed a city map. So I made it myself, using more of a pictorial map style. There were a couple reasons for this: One is that I figured it would be faster, and the other that I think it works better for an adventure to focus on the important places in an adventure rather than show every little building. In theory, the map was supposed to go up on the D&D website, but it still hasn't (and I was laid off before the adventure came out, so there's not really much I can do about it).

Here's the process I used to make the map, plus a big, printable version at the end.

Drawing the Map
I drew the map separately from the "Kiris Dahn" name and the compass rose. Starting with a pencil sketch of the most important places (skipping details like the trees and the small buildings), I then went back in with a Memory brush pen. (It's kind of like a spongy material shaped like a brush for doing flowing lines with permanent ink.) Here's a photo I took during inking:

Detail Inking
After inking, I erased the pencil lines, then went back in with a brown pen brush to add details in a lighter value. On a separate piece of paper, I made the Kiris Dahn name and compass rose. (I just used cheap printing paper since I knew I'd be heavily photoshopping this.) I then scanned the maps. The WotC scanner had some solidified gunk on it that left some big dirt smudges in the scanned images. They looked enough like they could be wear and tear on the PCs' copy of the map that I didn't try too hard to remove them.

Making a Map
To put it on a semi-parchment background, I tore the edges off a manila envelope, crumpled it up, flattened it back out, and scanned it. After manipulating it in Photoshop to make it lighter and less saturated, I put together a document with the illustrations layered on top. Here's the raw background image alongside a detail from the final document:

The Final Version
I ended up with a map that does what I wanted it to: emphasize the important places of Kiris Dahn and look like a reasonable prop for the PCs to possess. Most RPG maps, in my opinion, look too modern to hand out and keep verisimilitude. Not many D&D NPCs would have Photoshop or satellite imagery to make their maps, nor would every city's cartographer be a master draftsman. Finally, here's the final map, at its original size (click for the full-size image):


  1. Exellent job. I use mostly e-handouts theese days, but it really got me thinging about making something physical. :)

  2. Looks great. Also, I've got to say great work on The Slaying Stone. It's definitely the best WotC produced 4E adventure to be released yet.

  3. I haven't yet run this adventure but my first read through was quite enjoyable. Thanks for the effort on the map... love the style used. I definitely agree about the usefulness as a handout when it isn't super realistic.

  4. Thank you for posting this map, you just saved my DM bacon. Excellent work!

  5. Great work. Very useful to be able to 'see' were you're going!
    Regards, Titus

  6. Thank you very much for this map!

  7. T H A N K S, buddy this is some great work u hv done, awesome is the word..

  8. Getting back into the game after almost 2 yrs and wanted to run Slaying stone for my group. THANKS for the map! Great job!

  9. this is something really amazing, designing such maps requires a great deal of concentration and time, its awesome to see in Pics how you done this,

  10. The module mentions that the map isnt to scale. Any hits how large the city actually is? I presume its fairly big if the chars can fight in it and not get the whole town woken up, but I dont wanna make it too big.