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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?

Animus - Brendan Bongi's Metropolis Map - Resized
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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!

Brendan Bongi

Inspirations


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. 😉

Map Assets

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:

Before You Go

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About the author

Ross McConnell

DM, aspiring artist, and founder of 2-Minute Tabletop! I love drawing, writing, and worldbuilding, and this is the website where all of it comes together.

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  1. Looking at that dried up stream bed that fed in from what used to be the harbor I can imagine there's a wealthy merchant neighborhood that has been utterly destroyed by the chasm cutting it off from the river. Farming managers, shippers and importers all in wealthy homes full of rich furnishings. A financial district that was gutted and the residents had to flee to homes near the river carrying what they own or they just went destitute. Now the fancy houses are crash pads for mercenaries and refugess sleeping on satin sheets eating on fine earthware left behind. Dogs in the mansions.

  2. Hi Ross!

    This map looks absolutely stunning. I am left to wonder, however, do you have a map of this city before it ‘broke’ and was split in two.

    Your work is amazing and I’d want to honor it by using it as the major capital of my own campaign, and would want this breaking to happen when the party arrives.

    Thanks in advance!
    Kili

  3. So… how can I get this map for my own use? I can’t see a way to do so from this page nor the artist’s linked Instagram page.

  4. Awesome. I happen to be running a city-based game in a city that resembles this one. There is even a High Bridge with shops and such on it. This is more like the map I wish I had, but had to make do with the fantasy city generator with some minor alterations.

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