It’s been quiet around here for a few weeks – but that’s going to change. There will be updates on all sorts of fun developments through the week – so keep an eye out for new things. To start the week – two new products that spun off from the same idea. I pitched some map ideas for the back cover of Kobold Quarterly 18. Out of the collection the one that got picked up was a Keep guarding a Watchfire on the outskirts of the city of Friula in the world of Midgard. There’s a bit of Midgard lore in there, but the core of the adventure is that the adventurers have to storm the castle and light the watchfire. It’s a capture the flag adventure with lots of ways in to the keep.
Just before I go on to talk a little more about the map, let me just spare a few words for Kobold Quarterly 18. That cover is just astonishing. That stands up to the best Dragon covers I can think of. The Kobold is growing some very sharp claws indeed. The content stands up to the cover’s promise. It’s a fantastic balance of fluff and crunch, and continues to walk the line between the different games it supports (now Dragon Age, Pathfinder and 4E) with deft aplomb. Above all, every article can be easily repurposed for use with your own game. A great game idea is a great idea no matter what you play.
For this Kobold I created the Watchfire Keep map for my adventure “Who Watches the Watchfires” that lies within the pages. I’m secretly very pleased with the adventure credit (okay, not so secretly) – it’s the first writing I’ve snuck into published print product (after a number of Dungeon rejection letters back in the day). The location for this is inspired by a childhood of clambering around old castles near my home:
The aim of the map was to provide a realistic Keep with a couple of different approaches that would challenge different playing styles. The PCs can approach up the steps to the north where they are overlooked by towers and need to overcome a barred gate and then a portcullis. They can scale the steeper ground to the east or west, in sight of the guards on the towers, and scale the walls. Finally they can approach from the south up a vertiginous cliff and over the light wall – but if they fall it’s a long way down that will certainly alert the guards to their presence.
Alternatively the adventurers can be defending the keep against the oncoming hordes. I know how I’m using this in my home game. My players have grabbed themselves some land and want to build their first castle. Conveniently I have just the castle to start them off with!
As with previous Kobold Quarterly maps, this one has been released as a map pack. The pack is designed to help you use the keep in your game – however you choose to play. The pack contains:
- Multi-page pdf for printing at home, in US letter and international A4 formats, with colour and printer friendly greyscale versions.
- High res jpg for use with your virtual tabletop of choice, or for poster printing.
- Maptool campaign file with vision blocking and light implemented for 4E and OGL/Pathfinder systems.
So what’s this about 3D terrain? Well you might remember I teamed up with Brian Bartlow of Lone Tree Games to create a modular 3D dungeon. Well, we were wondering what our next pack should be and I set him the challenge of creating a modular castle set, capable of building the Watchfire Keep. Brian absolutely surpassed himself:
Now I play using virtual tabletops, but I have to say that I am jealous of those who game around the table and can play a castle siege using this model. Each section of wall is modular, so you can build an infinite variety of castle designs with this set. And – if you’ll forgive a brief spell of cartographic geekery – each wall section butts up to any other with textures that line up perfectly. You can even butt a section of wall end on into the middle of another section and the textures work. I’m not sure I can ever look at another stone wall again, but seeing this model in all its glory made it entirely worth it.
As with Brian’s previous constructions, this one is (mostly) glueless, so you can create every module by folding the walls together. I’ve no idea how he does it, but you get a full 1″ miniature scale castle that can support the sturdiest mini with only a little mediaeval origami.
It’s that level of care and detail that I truly love about these packs. It’s great working with Brian. If you’ve got a piece of terrain you’d like to see us do next then drop a note in the comments here, or over on the forum on Lone Tree Games.