The Ancient's Atrium was a tricky map to flesh out: the main challenge was to create something that was symmetrical and strategic without looking plain or repetitive. The initial sketches were inspired by various RTS game maps which have to be carefully balanced in the same way in order to provide a level playing field for all teams.
Tactical Choke Points
Ultimately, I decided to create four enclosed corners, each linked by various choke-points. These choke-points provide strong, defensible positions while simultaneously having enough entrances to necessitate a team effort to defend and hold them.
The open balconies on the left and right of the map offer ranged characters convenient points of control, while the top and bottom structures provide cover for direct-combat bruisers to rally their resistance.
In a two-team scenario, the center of the map should prove to be a bloody crucible where delicate strategy and careful allocation of team resources will decide the victor.
In a four-team war, players will need to forcefully wrest control of smaller, defensible portions of the structures in order to advance.
"While normal D20 game maps are generally littered with 'dungeon dressing,' or non-functional artistic flourish, Ancient's Atrium had to be more austere and 'back to basics' in order to allow easy reading and to maximize play-space. I decided to focus on clean, detailed textures to give Ancient's Atrium a distinct personality.
Where ConflictRPG's previous map--Keeper's Keep--looked like weathered or war-torn ruins, I wanted to create something that looked bright and idyllic, something tranquil and beautiful, worth fighting for. As I am currently living in South Korea, and having toured the many palaces and their beautiful gardens with carefully manicured flower beds, tranquil koi ponds, and winding foot-paths, I wanted to capture the same feeling here.
The Atrium is the spoils of victory, the prize for taking control, the reward of power. All in all, I wanted to create a map that made you think, and I think I've done that. What do you think?
Joshua Bennett is a talented cartographer, product designer and writer. An English and Philosophy major, who despite being a new-comer to cartography, as already won awards from the cartographer's guild. Joshua is current working and living in Seoul, South Korea teaching English to both new and advanced students.