Snake Den RPG Battle Map - Featured Image

The Snake Den

Troy and I sat down a few days ago to design a unique “micro-dungeon” for his upcoming article. I don’t want to give too much of it away yet, but suffice to say we settled on this winding tunnel; the grave of a humongous snake where kobolds have moved in to care for its still-live eggs.

Taking the results of our brainstorm I settled in with pen and paper and rather spontaneously decided to take another crack at what I’ve labelled in my brain as the “Darkest Dungeon style,” which essentially boils down to me deliberately applying twice as much ink with a very heavy hand. I find that this style suits dark dungeons (go figure) and offers a lot of interesting texture. I’m very happy with the way these lines turned out.

I let said lines do the talking in this map and so I kept the colors very flat, but I want to experiment more with coupling this style with the usual texture that I apply with the color brushwork. I’m excited to experiment some more next month!

Snake Den RPG Battle Map - Featured Image
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I’ve let you in on our kobold-flavored plans for this map, but what other encounters come to your mind? Let’s brainstorm different ideas in the comments!

So warm. Toasty and golden and humming with the little life within.
Nurt ran his claws down the egg’s shell, eyes wide at the feeling. The orb of dirty gold, half the size of the kobold himself, was like nothing he had ever known. It sat with its siblings, illuminating the cavern like a campfire. He huddled close and pressed his cheek to the hard exterior. The heat was intoxicating, soaking through his scales and twisting a contented smile across his face. Young Nurt might have written a poem about this moment, his first meeting with his future child, had he understood the concept of poetry. But he did not, so his thoughts began and ended with an appreciation of warmth and nerves over what would come next.
The small reptile took a step back through the cavern’s dirt, his eyes apprehensively raising to meet the egg’s mother’s. The empty sockets of a snake skull, many hundreds of times larger than those the kobolds bred, stared back. They were empty but accusatory. Nurt looked away.
Sorry, Great Serpent Mother. They don’t understand. I don’t want to steal. I want your baby to grow big and strong and golden and great, like you. If I were bigger, I could take all of them. Wish I could. I don’t want to separate them…
Nurt reached forward, lifted the egg from its clutch, and slowly edged backward. He glanced up again, tears beading in his eyes. The mother loomed over. Her teeth formed a threatening cage around her glowing progeny and the expanse of her decayed body circled the wall and extended back into the caves. But her eyes contrasted the terrifying form. They had changed, either by godlike magic or simply Nurt’s perception. The skull appeared forgiving. Assured that his fallen deity understood the regrettable necessity of his actions, Nurt’s mouth curled with a fraction of confidence. He spun on his heels, ready to make his escape.
“Nurt?”
OH NO.
Vorl, Nurt’s friend and clutch-mate, stood at the cavern’s opening. His green scales were brown in the light of the pilfered egg. The two froze in direct eye contact before Vorl’s gaze panned agonizingly down to Nurt’s treasure. He looked back up, mouth falling open. Still petrified and staring at Nurt, Vorl’s head rotated to face back into the tunnels.
Don’t yell. Please, brother, just don’t yell.
Vorl yelled. Or rather, he began to. Not half a word had been formed before Nurt closed the distance, stuffing Vorl’s mouth with a small, buzzing clay jar. An interrupted syllable echoed through the caves like a confused chorus.
The clutch-mates locked eyes again as Nurt passed. A stream of tears fell from his eyes. Between Vorl’s teeth, the jar cracked and broke. This exposed the flaw in Nurt’s plan, Vorl beginning to cry and scream as a swarm of bees was released in his mouth.
BAD, VERY BAD. VERY LOUD AND VERY BAD.
For a creature of Nurt’s size and stature and laden with the egg’s weight, his speed was nothing short of impressive. A haze of fearful adrenaline had overtaken him. He shot through the caves, ducking past his den-mates and sobbing apologies as they reacted behind him. His careless dash triggered every passing trap, slowing his pursuers with spikes, scorpions, and a hungry ooze. Finally, he tumbled into the sunlight.
Quickly turning back, Nurt could only hear panicked echoes of the mayhem he left behind. The den would be distracted long enough for him to escape. He rose from the ground and dusted off the egg, ensuring it was intact. With a deepening conviction, the little kobold turned to leave his den behind for good. This brought him face-to-face-to-egg with a band of four humans, all in shining armor and colorful robes and with a den’s worth of weapons strapped to their persons.
“Um… hey, little guy.”
OH NO.

– by Troy McConnell
More content by Troy

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Snake Den RPG Battle Map - Patreon Variants

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