Hail, adventurers! Today’s battle map is a layered Square Keep, a formidable tower fit for a villain, or heroes utilizing MCDM’s Strongholds & Followers. Be it an abandoned relic or a furnished fort, I’m sure that you can find a place for it in your campaign.
The doors slammed shut as a flurry of blades pierced the wood.
“Chairs, tables, anything heavy. I don’t want anything getting in. Something does, you kill them or I’ll kill you!” Commander D’varn barked orders to his men, his dark grey skin contorted in a furious scowl. The group of soldiers, scared more of their leader than their attackers, rushed to move the room’s furniture into a barricade. Beside the commander was Calwyn Tuin, apprentice to Magister Jeros Gall’r. He had retreated to the back of the room, as far from combat as the stone walls would allow.
“Stay sharp, mage, we’ll be needing you. For now, your master went to the roof. You’re to find him and do as he says,” D’varn’s gritted teeth were visible beneath the blood-stained white of his beard. They seemed almost to form a smile.
“We’re not letting them get that gods-damned hand! Go!” His final word shocked Calwyn back to life, sending the younger drow clambering to the stairway. He had studied for years and his magic was strong, but this? This was different. The monsters were real now.
His legs carried him up the keep’s levels, ignoring the burn in his muscles. From the open windows, he could see the attack. Swarms of soldiers broke through the treeline, charging with mindless disregard for their own being. Their damaged and broken forms slammed against the tower’s foundation. Like rabid animals, they clawed and stabbed and struck at the doors. Behind them, the forest’s canopy shook. Something worse was on its way. Somewhere beneath Calwyn, wood shattered and steel clashed.
Panting, he burst through the door on the tower’s roof. In the center of it was Magister Jeros, kneeling over a bundle of rags. He calmly turned to his panicked pupil.
“Calwyn, good. Guard the hand while I buy us a moment to breathe.” With a handful of words muttered into a feather, Jeros leaped from the stone. A vortex of wind caught him, billowing his layered robes as it carried him upwards. Suspended in the air, he reached into a pouch and produce a crude, amber sunstone. In his left hand he struck a small flame. Another string of words was chanted into the stone as he held it over the fire, before thrusting the two forward and down in the direction of the invaders.
An eruption of light bathed the tower’s side, casting blinding rays throughout the clearing and into the sky. Calwyn dropped and shielded his eyes, crouching over the rag-bound artifact on the floor. A distant groaning of unarticulated pain drifted up to the mages. Jeros gracefully descended.
“They’ve surrounded the keep. We need to act now before they can make it up h-” Jeros’s words were cut off by a guttural cry as a colossal fist threw him across the tower’s roof. From the corner behind him, an enormous beast of animated flesh and viscera pulled itself up by the crenelated walls. Calwyn scrambled to place himself between the golem and his master, gripping the artifact close as he moved. Struggling to rifle through his reagents, he found what he needed and began to speak. With the chip of mica in hand, he sent a concussive blast forward. It targeted the tower’s corner, shattering the stonework that supported the monster. Battered by rubble and force, the creation released a thundering roar as it toppled backward.
Calwyn turned to kneel by his master’s side. The older man spoke between bloodied coughs.
“We must keep it away. No matter what happens to us, they cannot have his hand…”
“Master, the tower is lost. I don’t have time to get us away from here.”
“I know. We have failed, but so have they. I am sorry, but you must safeguard it, until…” Jeros’s hand pressed into Calwyn’s shoulder. In it was a handful of glittering dust, shining with a rainbow of crushed gemstones. It sparked and burned away as magic filled the air.
“Until my kin can find you.” With failing strength, Jeros shoved his apprentice. Magic took hold of Calwyn, cracking and shifting the space around him. And with the severed hand bundled in his arms, he vanished.
– by Troy McConnell
More content by Troy
I designed this map as a special release for the Mimic’s Grid Kickstarter. Each floor is 10×10″ meaning you can easily stack these with tiles in-between if you want a really meaty, “2.5-dimension” set piece. If you haven’t taken a look at this collab-Kickstarter yet, I recommend it!
Tell me, would you like to see a furnished version as a paid map release? If so, I would also like to create a set of “damage” assets for rotting floorboards, crumbling walls, and such. A handful of broken furniture items too, I think. With these, you can give your players the satisfaction of patching up the place and seeing the changes. What do you think?
Square Keep Battle Map Download
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