This week was a tough one to make the next Dungeondraft map of a Heroquest adventure. On Thursday, I started feeling poorly, and I pretty much spent all weekend drained of energy. Aside from being covered in blankets and cats while binge-watching things that didn’t need much attention, I went to work whenever I reached a little oasis of energy. In the end, I think I can do better than what I’ve produced but making the map has taught me a good deal once more, so I don’t regret making it. On top of that, I’m reminding myself that it’s more important to make a thing than it is to not make it.
Interpreting the maps and making decisions
As I’ve started to get used to, the US versions of the Heroquest maps just seem to have more detail in them. Aside from the fact that they consistently have more monsters in the entire map, the NL versions just seem to leave out objects for some reason. Most of the rooms in the rop of the map in the NL version just don’t have any objects, even though they were absolutely available as items in the box set.
This map is essentially a large spiral to the central room, which to me gives it something of an organic feel—after all, who would design a building like this when you could be far more efficient about it? On top of that, there’s some odd hallways that lead nowhere that reinforce that organic feel for me. So, this might be a cave, or perhaps temple ruins that have been retaken by nature, or something along those lines.
The Dutch map, being so empty of detail, makes for a very tough basis for interpretation. There’s just a sequence of rooms, one of which has a table in it. There seems to me little rhyme or reason to it. The US map also has an empty room or two, but there is more purpose there. After the first generic “room with a table” in the bottom left, we seem to reach a more consistent area. There’s a room with a torture rack across the hall from a very small room with a trap outside. To me, immediately that seems like a little jail cell to keep your future torture victims. Past an empty room, there’s a little cabinet in a room with a secret door. What better place to keep a secret door than behind some crates in a storage room? The secret door gives entrance to the true inner sanctum: a place with a hearth (so, less likely to be a cave), and then the treasure room with a whole pile of monsters.
The entire thing reads like a pretty standard encounter of a gang of monsters that have a hideout somewhere that you have to battle through.
Information from the flavor text
This time, the NL and US versions of the text actually largely agree:
Prince Magnus’s Gold
Three treasure chests have been stolen while being transported to the King. A reward of 200 gold pieces has been issued for the person who returns the chests with all the gold. The perpetrators are suspected of being a gang of Orcs hiding in the Black Mountains. They are led by Gulthor, a Chaos Warrior.My translation of the Dutch version of the text.
Aside from the Dutch text being a little more individualistic than the US text, and the US text offering a higher reward (along with the usual King vs Emperor difference, the stories are pretty much the same. The Dutch version offers a little doubt (they are “suspected” of being the thieves, whereas the English text knows for sure).
So, we have clarity on the nature of the map, at least: this is in the Black Mountains. I’ve been wanting to do a cave map for a while, as I’ve just not done these before and it seems like an interesting new style to try out. On top of that, for the previous two maps regarding Orcs, I made structured war camps for rounded characters. This time, let’s lean in to the “lair” aspect described in the US text and make it a thieves’ hideout.
Before moving on to the mapping itself, I wanted to comment on a funny little difference in the quest instructions: the US version simply provides the instruction that players cannot take the gold for themselves—it’s just not a move they can make. The Dutch version, on the other hand, states that if a player comes up with the idea of taking the gold for themselves, they can never become a True Hero. How harsh! Sure, you can continue risking your life throughout all these murder quests we send you on, but we won’t give you a medal at the end!
Translation into a final map
A main thing I wanted to practice with this map was making a cave encounter. I’ve not made one before, so it was interesting to try and work out how to do this exactly. Dungeondraft does have a cave building feature but that can be a little tricky to use. On top of that, it fits the very specific Dungeondraft aesthetic, which doesn’t match with the Crosshead assets that I’m using for this.
I struggled with quite a few things in making this map. Firstly, the terrain was tricky to get right. I wanted to have a dark dirt cover the floors but the only dirt I have was quite light colored. So, in the end, I had to turn on soft blending of terrains and layer two rocky terrains together with the dirt, after which I covered it with a 25% opacity black pattern tile to darken it. I’m not too happy with how it turned out but it does work.
The second thing that was quite educational was using paths to make the walls of the cave. Crosshead assets offer about half a dozen different cliff and cave path tools, including a set of three that are increasingly dark so that you can layer them. It took quite some fiddling with the pathing tool to try and get these paths working correctly so that I ended up with roughly the right size to all the rooms and they looked like they connected naturally.
Once I layed them all out, I realized it would have been much nicer to use the three layers of the pathed cliffs to make three depths of the cave. I could have used the top layer in the first two rooms and switched over halfway in the south hallway, then had the rooms on the left with two path layers to indicate one level down, switching over to the third layer after the secret door in the storage to indicate the sanctum sanctorum being at the bottom. However, at that point, I’d already spent quite some time working out all these paths and I wasn’t keen on redoing everything with my woozy head.
So, moving on with what I had, I decided on two key words for a style for this map: sparse and askew. This is a gang of orcs hiding away in a set of caves, so they won’t have too much around. Moreover, they’re probably on the run, so they don’t have much going for them. Probably, they steal what they can, sell things off when they can, and stay on the move as much as they can. Based on that, I decided those empty rooms were mostly barracks, that their storage wasn’t very full, and that most things they had were either stolen goods or things easy to take on the move.
The only things that makes this odd is the inclusion of a torture room and a prison, though I guess the gang also does kidnappings where needed, and the inclusion of a furnace in the map. In hindsight, I think I should have put down a grill there rather than a full furnace. Not only is it absolutely crazy to have a full furnace in a cave system (where does that smoke go?! Where’s the smoke stack?), if this is a gang on the move, then how are they taking along a furnace? Well, I’ll chalk that one down to feeling poorly and not being on the ball.
In any case, without further ado, my considerations led me to the following map:
Maybe one day I’ll go back to this and make a better version.
EDIT 2022.03.01: A few people have been asking for a higher-resolution version of this map, so I’ve uploaded a whole set to /r/heroquest along with all the others, which you can find below: