The story is quite a simple one: I was gifted a few sheets of papyrus and after a long time of contemplating a use for it, D&D made its way back into fashion. I might not be a player myself but the increasing need and supply of vintage maps finally inspired me to experiment with this rough-looking medium.
My research on suitable techniques did not deliver any results, so I had to improvise and test in the true sense of creativity. The very first thing I tried stuck immediately: simple black ink.
The only adjustment I made between the very first try and the final map was omitting the use of any water. This resulted in a more old-fashioned look, in my opinion.
As a point of reference I went to vintage city panoramas and maps one would usually find in museums or townhalls. I then loosely based some techniques on old copper etching artwork, which was very popular among German artists way back when. I combined this with the knowledge I gathered from a comic drawing course on Kadenze. Since both maps are fanworks, I did of course use books, movies, wikis, and video games for reference as well. I believe, that should make these pieces by definition truly eclectic.
Wraeclast, Act II
Path of Exile‘s Act II, my favorite act thus far, and it’s town as the Forest Encampment. A lot of research went into this piece to create a map as accurate as possible, including the native New Zealand flora and landscape; so let’s take a tour.
The central figure here is Einhar Frey, the Beastmaster, first encountered in the Forest Encampment. I created this map in the context of an Einhar-themed art competition, so he had to be front an center. He is standing next to a Rhoa, one of the beasts found in the Old Fields and the Wetlands in this act. In Einhar‘s Menagerie you can find a Rhoa enclosure with a sattle in front of it, which leads me to believe that he would in fact be ready to ride one if need be.
A lot of detail went into this map and it is not easy to spot all the landmarks from afar. In my efforts to keep proportions mostly accurate, we have to take a very close look as to not miss everything. Let’s see a closeup of the Forest Encampment itself. Centre to the “town” is the large kauri tree, which can be up to 45m tall – to justify it’s size compared to the rest of the kauri forest. You can see the way into the encampment coming from the Southern Forest over a makeshift dock. The encampment seems to act as a dam between two parts of a lake, as seen on the world map. The arches are partially broken and the walls reinforced with tree trunks all over. Leaving the encampment to the right into the Old Fields we can see the broken down wagon and a pathway leading the player through the area and into the next.
The Old Fields are completely in ruins. All that is left is a few remains of some border walls that might have closed off the owner’s territory once. A few large rocks are scattered throughout the field as if to continue the rock formation to the right of the Southern Forest.
In the foreground we also see a typical NZ cabbage tree poking out from the right.
Coming from the Old Fields we are led into the crossroads with access to the Chamber of Sins and the Fellshrine Ruins. This area is covered in ruins that seemed to have been residences. The rivers running through cause the air to be permanently foggy and we can find quite a few waterfalls here, too. We can spot the entrance to the Chamber of Sins next to the largest waterfall of the area, set into the foot of a mountain. The Fellshrine Ruins and Broken Bridge can be assumed a a continuation of this area as they are similarly covered in ruins.
At this point we have fully explored the East and should head west into a thick forest, divided into four parts: The Riverways, The Western Forest, The Wetlands, and the Nothern Forest.
Hidden within these forests are the Weaver’s Chambers and the entrance to the Vaal Ruins, as well as The Dread Thicket. The only landmark possibly visible from above is Alira‘s camp in the Western Forest.
An Ancient Pyramid surrounded by water is the location of the final boss of this act, Vaal Oversoul. When we come back to this area in Act VII the water would be drained and the Causeway revealed together with the Vaal City. In the back of this excerpt I have placed hints of Sarn City, the first area of Act III. This is where my research led me to the biggest inconsistency, since the player would leave the pyramid apex and directly arrive at the city. The best explanaition – while still hard to believe – would be that a massive explosion, triggered by defeating Vaal Oversoul, would send the pyramid apex flying and thus breaking off the piece through which the player could escape. In any case, I decided to follow the world map as created by GGG to stay at least visually consistent here.
Finally, in the far back we see the Sarn Encampment of Act III, residence of Piety and Dominus. Considering the placement of Sarn here, the biggest mountain in the farthest background would then be the Beast, a creature created by Sin to tame the old gods and used by the Vaal – the first civilization – to create the skill gems. The Beast is also thought to have fueled Vall Oversoul with the power of Nightmare.