I draw the occasional D&D map


When travelling the depths of the underdark, there are passages and caves that most “civilized” denizens ignore because they are small, narrow, and fraught with obstacles. These “tertiary” passages sometimes make for useful escape or access tunnels and these have their connections to the primary and secondary passages concealed behind secret doors or other hidden access points.

Tertiary tunnels are usually about ten feet wide with ceilings between 8 to 25 feet with an average of 15 feet or so. While drow still patrol these passages, encounters are more frequently with monsters such as xorn, lurkers above, trappers, mind flayers, and various underdark vermin.

This set of tertiary passage geomorphs includes a redraw of the original from Descent into the Depths of the Earth (on the far left), along with four new example passages for use when handling encounters along these nearly abandoned and secret byways.

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It is the end of the month and time to head back into the older maps and dig up a few to re-release under the free commercial license, all thanks to the awesome patrons who support my cartographic wanderings via Patreon. Today we are bringing back “the Ruins under Axehead Mound” from four years ago. The versions being released today have been upgraded to 1200 dpi and an optional grid has been added.

My default assumption for old school dungeons is that you’ve come across the ruins of something huge and underground – something like the ruined cities of the Elderlings buried in the swamps in the Rain Wilds stories by Robin Hobb. It’s the basis I use for all my “random dungeon” rolling.

Here is a small dungeon level set up exactly along those premises – the ruins under Axehead Mound have two entrances – one a collapsed wall section that leads into a chamber, the other a pair of ruin-cluttered stairs that lead into the ruins from a ruined above-ground building.

This map was originally drawn almost exactly four years ago in a single draft using Sakura Microns (a 03 for the walls, and a 01 for the hatching).


Rhinoceros Containment Caves of the Iron Overlord!

The Iron Overlord (a sorcerer of some power who is never seen outside of his full plate armour) maintains this hillside structure where the rhinoceroses are experimented upon with the goal of producing a breed of brutal war rhinos. Most of the time the place is fairly quiet, observing the four rhinos in their two enclosures. But sometimes the rhinos are magically tranquilized and carried up the sloping corridor to the lab. The room adjoining the lab to the east is also twelve feet above the lab, allowing the Iron Overlord and any guests to oversee the work being done to the rhinos without getting their hands bloody.

The whole facility lies just outside the great city. Most of those who work within the small complex (cleaning and feeding staff) live on the outskirts of town and walk here to work while the surgeon who does the major work lives in the offices behind the viewing room. The Iron Overlord himself travels here standing upon a floating disk summoned for that purpose by his apprentices.


Once the basement of a small fortified temple, Lockhart’s Delve has been home to a variety of creatures and groups since the destruction of the temple proper. Some maps of the old temple of the moon god show two entrances into the lower levels – one into the basements and another into the connected crypts. But some fifty years ago the crypt entrance was completely filled with stone and earth under the orders of Short Terog, an ogre adventurer who made this her home for a time.

Most recently, the Blackguard Lockhart has used the structure as barracks while assembling their forces to cross the dark barrens and assault Oceansong Harbor. Since the fall and subsequent recapture of Oceansong Harbor, the dungeons have seen little use except by the shadows of the kobolds who came here looking for their clanmates.


Cut into the cliffs near Terrek’s Wall is a solitary sealed doorway. Beyond it is the vault of the famed Lapis Monk, entombed for long centuries. The vault has lain undisturbed for ages – the doorway secured both in construction and by magic.

But time has her way. A portion of the cliff face has fallen, exposing an internal passage within the vault. Trapped chambers lay in both directions to those who would explore via this new entrance – but since when did common sense and traps prevent a little bit of dungeoneering?

The awesomeness is unstoppable.

You rock, Dyson. Keep up the good work.

I love the old school feel to them. Good job, keep it up.

Only because you both insist.


Emperor Tauneskalis III created the viridian beacon which to this day marks the centre of the Blue Empire. The Great Pyramid is the seat of this incandescent blue light, said to be the mark of his divine potence.

Standing 260 feet tall the pyramid is the base for the viridian light which in turn beams straight up into the sky, visible for hundreds of miles around as a needle-like green-blue line that stretches up to the clouds.

The main level of the pyramid is the only area ever open to visitors and celebrants, with access to the upper levels concealed by secret passages or guarded by imperial security forces watching for those who would defile the pyramid by scaling it.

Soldiers come here prior to deployments to bask in the light of the beacon – at other times you will find farmers here with a sack of their best grain to have it touched by the light prior to planting; expectant mothers hoping to bless their children; and even businessmen hoping for the light to aid their new ventures. Pacing around quietly are priests and administrators of the realm offering advice and counsel.

(details on the upper levels to come later this week)



The upper levels of the Great Pyramid of Tauneskalis III are dedicated to worship of the divine family and observance of the great incandescent blue-green beacon that reminds all within the Blue Empire of their divine potence.

The main worship level of complex is dedicated to the history of the Empire and the Imperial Dynasties – with statues of the six emperors of the Tauneskalis family along the Green Hall on the north side. Access to this level is either by the secret staircase behind the statue of Tauneskalis III himself, or via the not-very-secret passage that exits on the west face of the pyramid. The path up the west face has been well worn by the many people that have climbed up and down this way since the pyramid was built.


The upper levels contain archives of the empire – stored in the crypts, tombs and niches constructed on these levels that have never held a body. At the very top level, a sloped chamber leads up to a balcony that faces east that is still used to this day to make imperial proclamations in the early mornings a few times a year.


Cut into the foggy clefts of the Steaming Mountains, the Maze of the Storm Witch must be navigated (or the whole mountain climbed over) in order to reach the Pale Divide. Unnatural mists fill these passages, obscuring the already confusing twists and turns.

The maze is also specifically designed to prevent the most common method of exploring such a space – if an adventurer uses the “left hand rule” (or even the “right hand rule”) they will not find the way through, but will instead eventually find themselves back at the entrance instead.

That is, if the storm witch’s blindsighted grimlocks don’t get you first.

This map was specifically drawn to show how a 3D structure can easily break the “left hand rule” for navigating a maze. It was also originally called the Labyrinth of the Storm Witch, but regardless of every dictionary disagreeing with them, there are those who feel it is important to point out that labyrinths are ONLY unicursal in design.

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