A branching pipeline bearing dubious water, but doubtlessly leading somewhere critical to the plot…

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Sewer Pipes - Large preview

I have played around with sewers in previous battle maps, but never with a predefined layout and classic, round pipes! These new ones sport bends designed to hide enemies and encourage exploration, all while stomping through thick kelp and other debris. Barnacles and seaweed thrive here because, in my imagination, the tide sometimes sweeps in to replenish them. There is also a section of flowing water to deal with, and a small grove of happy toadstools.

I have experimented with a very dark alternative version this time, designed to look better with pure black fog of war. It’s also just a bit more atmospheric, if you’re playing in a room dark enough to enjoy the details:

Hope you can find an excuse to send your heroes down into the sewer again! I’d love to hear what sort of encounters (monsters and otherwise) come to your creative minds. Please do share below. 🙂

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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. I enjoy these. I'm starting to use them as 30-minute creativity exercises.

    A BOY AND HIS OYTUGH

    This junction area leads to a section of sewer that has always been problematic and dangerous, with rumored links to deeper cave complexes below the city. Several people and even groups have been lost past this point – and on a few occasions, their disappearance was followed by real trouble in the sewers. Nobody needs that just because some sword-swinging lookie-loo can't keep themselves out of the city’s cloacae. Then again, trying to stop all adventurers is an obvious fool's game.

    What to do?

    Set up a toll booth, of course, One that quietly serves as a multi-level early warning system.

    == The Story ==

    The two rooms in this battlemap are the home of the city's solution to several problems at once. Notlim, Master of Invocations (W-ilu 8) was a capable but struggling mage, due to terrible people skills and questionable personal hygiene (Cha 5). He always got on much better with animals and beasts that he could charm than he ever did with people. When the merchant coster he once worked for burned down in a fire, the mage left for another city with his savings. In time, those ran out, and the sad-sack mage survived largely because he was one of the few who would answer the Drainpipe Brotherhood’s bounty notices for creature control.

    One of those creatures was an Otyugh, and placing the charmed monster in the room with the water feature was the city's first solution to their problem. It failed when the creature was murdered by adventurers, who never returned. Notlim was devastated.

    When a tougher, smarter Advanced Otyugh ascended from the depths into the sewers shortly thereafter, the Drainpipe Brotherhood group it met was wiped out – but the Otyugh was fine.

    The bespectacled and begrimed mage bravely went to it, and succeeded in charming this creature, too. That was 3 years ago.

    == Present Setup ==

    The southern room with the water feature belongs to Neo, who has been charmed so long that it has affected the creature’s mind. It has come to value neatness and cleanliness, after seeing the remarkable level attained by its human friend. Remarkable to a Otyugh, anyway. Neo’s room is neat, it bathes frequently, and it turns out that an Otyugh’s natural coloration is a lot like a Cloud Leopard’s – quite handsome, really. Neo speaks Common, and is intelligent enough to engage passers-by in conversation. He keeps a medium-sized alarm bell within tentacle reach at all times; if picked up and shaken, it causes a small bell on Notlim’s own person to ring.

    The northern room is Notlin’s now, rent-free. He carries a rope trick cord from the city, and a handy haversack that includes personal effects, rations, city forms, a lockbox for coins, and “Squicky” – Notlim’s cherished paper clipper that automatically fastens forms together once they’re returned to him. The latter is a figurine shaped to look like an Otyugh, and pressing the tentacles together seals papers together.

    Oddly, seeing Neo start to get clean has motivated Notlim, who uses cantrips to keep himself a lot neater and cleaner now in the sewers than he did when he lived above them.

    The wizard sleeps in the space created by the rope trick cord, which explains the lack of furniture in the room. It doesn’t explain the area of the room painted in a checkerboard pattern, or the large 3’ high chess pieces. The fact that he taught Neo to play chess, and had the set specially-made up in the city so the pieces would fit Neo’s tentacles, does.

    == Encounter: Pay the Toll ==

    Any people or groups who enter this area will be politely engaged in conversation by Neo, Notlim, or both. They will be told that they have entered a toll area of the city, and that passage beyond requires payment and the filling out of forms. The payment is 10 silver each. AND 50 pounds of roosterfish (about 1 barrel), a species that is caught in the local area and sold at markets. Neo really likes roosterfish.

    If Neo is alone, he tends to be more flexible than Notlim about the forms, in exchange for a larger payment of fish. Payment can even be made to either Notlin or Neo in advance of a planned trip. The Watch comes to collect the forms and half of the passage revenues about once a month.

    The forms require passers-by to sign in and out, certifying under signature that they have made provisions for being in a Danger Rad area, waiving all liability to the city, and declaring that they will not harm the city’s interests under penalty of lawsuits and fines. There’s a shorter form for Drainpipe Brotherhood crews, of course, but Neo and Notlim have gotten to know the few specialists who will venture past their area. Disguise and Bluff attempts to fake it as Drainpipe Brotherhood members are made with disadvantage (-4).

    So where’s the multi-level warning system? Why, the fish, of course.

    Roosterfish are caught in the area, but their bony rubberiness isn’t wildly popular with city residents. It’s a last-resort poor person food, and unless Notlim is the buyer, the local merchant who sells them will pass news of any requests for a whole barrel of these fish on to the local Watch. This instantly alerts them that something is up, and provisions will be made. A small team will be sent to collect the forms from Notlim, and reaction forces will be assembled to temporarily reinforce city defenses in places you could never place permanent garrisons.

    Some people have been smart enough to get the 50 pounds by having several different people buy 1-2 five-pound fish each at slightly different times. Even then, however, the merchant is likely to notice a sudden uptick in that business if it happens within a day or two. The Watch will hear about it a bit later, but they’ll likely hear. It would require spaced purchases by several people over several days to evade the merchant’s notice, as represented by a difficult skill check for the merchant.

    There is one way for very clever adventurers to get by without the fish, and the clues are right in front of them. Neo plays chess, but even an Advanced Otyugh won’t be very good at it. Someone who put the clues together and offered Notlim a challenging game could get the fish reward handled by Notlim later, and success would add advantage (+4) to subsequent Diplomacy checks with Notlim if they wanted to do even more irregular things like, say, forego the forms.

    Winning a chess game against Notlim is a difficult skill check, but offering a good challenge is only a moderate skill check. Getting him to forego his beloved forms, on the other hand, is a very difficult skill check.

    Anyone killing Notlim and Neo will discover that several items of his have tracking beacons in them. The activating clip for his rope, his haversack, and Squicky are all either distinctive enough to be good magical tracking beacons, or specifically enchanted as tracking beacons for those with the corresponding key item.

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