This spectacular Community Gallery submission is from Brendan Bongi, who has undertaken the monumental task of building a city for his players, and found that the map making and wordbuilding compliment each other in a very satisfying way. Take it away, Brendan…
Welcome to Animus, the city under siege! After the Shattering five years ago and the opening of the great Chasms, the city has been torn apart, cut off from the other cities of the Arkelion League. It wasn’t long before the forces of the Krallyx Empire swept up the valley to take advantage of the city’s precarious situation, and although the city’s stalwart militia managed to repel the initial assaults, the Krallyx forces continue to tighten the noose around the beleaguered defenders.
Meanwhile, the Animus city council continues to pour resources into the construction of the enormous Highbridge across the chasm in a desperate bid to reconnect with the outside world and join forces with their Arkelion allies. As the Krallyx prepare for another attack, the question remains: will it finish in time?
This is a map I’m developing for an upcoming 5e campaign. I fell in love with the idea of the party being trapped in a besieged city, trying desperately to rally the citizens and lead the defenders to prevent their home from falling into the hands of an unstoppable enemy!
I imagined it as a sandbox type game, with different armies and plots threatening the city and no ‘correct’ way to deal with any of them. As I began thinking about the various systems the players could interact with – the political intrigue, the military maneuvers, the economic connections – I found the best way to visualize them (or at least begin thinking about them) was to map out the physical space in which they were going to occur.
It became a process of discovery: as I pencilled in new cathedrals and workshops, I immediately began thinking about who lived there, how they fit into the broader tapestry of the city’s ecosystem.
Where is the closest tavern to the ambassador’s residence? Who draws water from the web beneath the gallows? Which residences will end up in the shadow of the Highbridge during the mid-afternoon heat? Why is this tower allowed to block the otherwise uninterrupted view of the fortress bastions?
The addition of each new building revealed more about the overall setting, forcing me to think about the ways this huge mass of seemingly random structures came together to create a single entity. For anyone looking to further develop a setting they are working on – to capture those connections and minute details that make a place feel real – I can’t recommend going through the process of mapmaking enough.
I’m still working on figuring out what this campaign will be, but every hour I’ve put into making this map has helped me get one step closer to getting to that point of understanding, helped me develop a setting I hope my players will find plausible and vibrant and explorable. It’s inspired me over the course of the last year, and I can’t wait to share in the collaborative story-making process of a new campaign once again with this map at its core. There’s still plenty more for me and my players to learn about the city of Animus, and I can’t wait to discover it!
The detail in this city is something else, and reminds me more of a satellite image than the maps I generally use. I could see myself easily getting lost in these streets, fully immersed and enjoying every thoughtfully places tree and market stall.
Bravo, Brendan! Thank you for sharing this with us all. It’s hugely inspiring, practical, and probably something I’ll steal for a private game with my friends one day. 😉
Brendan also provided us with a handy list of all the raw map assets he used to create this behemoth. You can find them in the gallery items below:
Castle Siege WeaponsPWYW: $1 or FREE $1.00
Devil’s MillPWYW: $1 or FREE $1.00
Meadow Ruins Pack$5.00
River & Water AssetsPWYW: $1 or FREE $1.00
The Everything PackProduct on sale
Wonderdraft Town & City Assets Pt.2PWYW: $1 or FREE $1.00
Wonderdraft Town & City Map Assets Pt.3PWYW: $1 or FREE $1.00
Wonderdraft Town & City Tokens Pt.1PWYW: $1 or FREE $1.00
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