Can you believe that this map is from 2015? It was one of my very first – and it shows!
When I first started drawing maps I was shooting for a very different level of quality, and primarily for my own table. For a period of time I was even making a new map every day! This was before the advent of map variants, extracted assets, and all the other extras we make now. The line art was rough and without any touch-ups, and the coloring showed absolutely zero respect for staying within the lines.
Though these old maps don’t hold up under a magnifying glass, I think that my past-self had a good sense for color. I can learn a lot from that guy! The original version of this map sports warm, desert colors that I sometimes struggle to find today.
I think I’ve grown a lot since 2015, but so often in growing we can leave valuable bits and pieces behind by accident. I think it’s an important exercise to go back through our work and find those pieces worth keeping!
All that said, today I showed the old Desert Ruins some love by giving it a fresh, new map variant. A free one, by the way! You can download this ‘Flooded’ version bundled with the same free items you’ve probably already got in your account or inbox. If not, just scroll a little further to the downloads section. 🙂
Have you claimed this pack before? Simply re-download the ‘JPG’ file (now a ZIP) from your Downloads page or downloads email. Otherwise, you can claim it in one of the packs below…
Desert RuinsPWYW: $1 or FREE $1.00
Maps & Assets Volume 1$39.00
The Everything PackProduct on sale
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Some 30-minute creativity exercises are harder than others.
I'm trying to think "Why is this flooded?" Desert flash floods would just destroy everything, and the map would be blank. So it has to be gradual. But maybe it can be intermittent to make it interesting for adventurers.
Thought: Where does a water elementalist go when he doesn't want to be found? Okay…
Crossing Lord Andromansus di Garasteth, the decaying imperial city's resident Death Knight, made this question a very practical one for Titian Garrulus Marinus. The answer was "so far away that even fiends won't think to look."
And that's how a water elementalist ended up using his powers to build a remote dwelling deep within the Bright Desert, in a sheltered wadi where the water was still close enough to the surface that he could feel it. Or rather, close enough that his powerful magic item, the Solonor Pearl, could feel it. Buried in the ground so it could still feel moisture, and so that scrying its location would reveal only earthen darkness, the pearl beneath this hermit dwelling helped to underpin and enhance the magics that Titian used to build his desert hermitage ("Edgewater") as a place of both comfort and beauty in his remaining years.
The hermit went the way of all flesh many decades ago, teleporting himself out over the ocean with the last remnants of his strength. So, too, have many elements of Edgewater fallen to the ravages of time. None living even remember the place's name, calling it instead "The Blue Rainbow Mirage" in memory of forgotten tales. But the Solonor Pearl lies there still, patient as the deeps, awaiting the call of aquatic magic to awaken it.
Should a PC use water creation, summoning, or shaping magic within 60' of the structure, the Solonor Pearl will awaken. The cast magic will fail, as it is channeled to open a temporary wormhole to the Elemental Plane of Water. A puddle will begin in the ruins and slowly spread outward, until the shallow basin in which the ruin sits is flooded with ultra-pure water to a depth of 10'. That water might come in very, very handy while it's still here for the next 24 hours. after that, the water will drain away into the ground.
Within 2 days of drainage, the basin in which the ruins sit will be filled with desert plants and beautiful flowers, sprouting and soon blooming in the desert sun. They will last for about a week before ending their lifecycle, and drawing back under the sand to wait.
This is Edgewater's second and most accessible treasure. These sudden-blooming desert flowers and plants have been fed on ultra-pure elemental waters. Good Herbalism/ Nature/ Arcane proficiency will let PCs identify a number of very useful varieties that are of top quality and potency when used in potions. The rare Pelor's Mercy vine, for example, can be eaten directly to give a +2 boost on poison saving throws for the next 10 minutes. Or, it can be the key ingredient in a potion that cures poisoning and purifies large volumes of water.
The Solonor Pearl is buried to a depth of 50' below the Flickering Pool's deepest point, and the surrounding sands are of a rock that has its own weak magical attunement, so scrying for or trying to detecting the pearl's magic will prove frustrating.
If PCs succeed in finding the pearl using other methods, it's up to the GM to determine what water related powers or progression of powers The Solonor Pearl has. And who else might want it, if it should come to light.
If the elementalist left some of his items (gear, spell books, etc) behind before "returning to the water" at the end of his life, they won't be here. He will have given them to friendly creatures nearby before his death, for use or just safekeeping. It's up to GMs where to place these. The items can be used as rewards by Titian's old friends, in order to recruit the PCs for some form of adventure. Or they may have become a lost legacy, left within another adventure locale that PCs stumble into. Finding Titian's notes might offer some clues re: their odd experience at Edgewater, and may even hint at the pearl's existence and some of its powers.