Map: The Shore

A new map, my first coloured one, and a mini-adventure location for your favourite role-playing game, complete with a bunch of adventure hooks. I’d love to see you adapt and use The Shore in your own games, tag me on @moniquefranzsen.

1 – The Marine Tavern

Flicking lanterns illuminate gregarious locals wearing distinctive woolen gambesons and battered oilskin dusters. They can talk all day about their nautical tattoos, but can be steered to other rumours if you get the next round. Banjax, a sentient pet crab, walks along the bar and banters with customers.

A Whale of a Tale – d4 rumours

1The next morning, folk will be throwing flowers into the sea from the slipway (5), to mourn the loss of Carrick, a local fisherfolk, at sea.
2The other stranger in the tavern is looking for crew to join her expedition to an island nobody has heard of before.
3The Fishery has employed a water wizard to bewitch the seas, making fish swim away from fisherfolk.
4Pascal claims that he has found a magic tin whistle that will summon a massive, spiked sea slug when blown at the end of the pier (4).

2 – Fisherfolk

The sea salt spray pounds these huts rhythmically, and seaweed is strewn about. A small group of fisherfolk still live on the beach, despite the crumbling ruins of former homesteads (6). They prise barnacles off of the hulls of their ships and swap tales of the sea. Dander is their chief – they maintain a vendetta against the Fishery, it’s the source of the world’s evils, according to them, and will eagerly suggest methods of closing it down.

3 – Fishery

Unsurprisingly, it reeks of fish. The sturdy wooden structure is newer than the rest of the buildings. Barrels of fresh and salted fish are packed by nervous fishery workers, who live up in the town proper. Supervisor Breen is the leader of the pack here, he speaks of modernising and improving folks’ lives. Access to the upstairs level of the Fishery is restricted and under guard.

4 – Piers

Ragged, unsavory youths lurk nearby, their laughter crashing against the salt-scoured shore. Their faces and fingers are red from the freezing wind as they look for the next cure for boredom. Steady on their bare feet, even on the slippery wooden boards, they scope out potential victims. At the end of the piers, one can see:

A Sight to See – d4 adventure hooks

1A shoal of fish glows under the sea. Are they spelling out a message?
2That large rock, jutting out of the waves, just moved. It’s not a rock.
3A merman, with a fish tail, is beached nearby. He looks injured.
4In the distance, a ship is being pulled slowly underwater by a giant tentacle. Some people are escaping by jumping into the water and grabbing onto the floating debris.

5 – Slipway

Salt and seaweed encrusted, the slipway lives up to its name. Watch your step. The fisherfolk use it to launch their rowboats. Two fishers, Gretel and Perle, perch nearby, mending nets, smoking pipes and keeping their eye on what goes on. Gretel dispairs of the dying fishing trade. Perle combs the beach and collects oddities.

6 – Crumbling Ruins

A strange, sweet, rotting smell is in the air here. Something ancient and dangerous is involved in the ruin of this beach. The sand is sticky and harder to walk through. Fisherfolk huts here are abandoned and sinking into the mire. The longer that characters spend in the ruins, the harder it is to shake off the feeling of unease.

Black and white inked map with The Shore as the title in the top left. The map is a top-down illustration of a seaside setting. There are 6 points of interest on the map.

Making Maps

My brand new lockdown hobby, rather spontaneously, has been drawing RPG-inspired maps. I did a little bit of research, bought some mid-range pens and a dotted notebook, and got going. Have a look at some of the results! Click the thumbnails below for a full view.


These tutorials from Paths Peculiar were especially helpful in learning the methods and I found them invaluable. Go and check them out!

The illustrious Dyson, who makes maps in this distinctive style, has some great help sheets here.

JP Covert has a detailed YouTube video on the mapping process – How to Draw Your Own D&D Town Map!

What I bought (Amazon UK):

rOtring Tikky Mechanical Pencil Set – I’m not totally convinced a mechanical pencil is necessary, but I bought one on recommendation. As a complete novice, I draw everything out in pencil, go over with my thinnest pen, and then erase the pencil afterwards.

Uni Pen 5 Piece Black – I use these for my lines. I use the thinnest, 0.1, for the little details, like cracks in the tiles, and 0.3 to reinforce walls and make them look thicker.

Spectrum Noir alcohol markers – I got 5 markers in a range of basic, bland colours as well as a blender pen (which isn’t actually for blending!). I’m still experimenting with these.

Rhodia Wire Bound Notebook – The dots are essential for me to line up my drawings.

I have found map-making quite absorbing, and it’s great to work on while listening to music or keeping one eye on a TV show. I’m very proud of what I’ve created, considering that, prior to this, I never considered myself capable of drawing – in fact, I would have said I’m quite bad at it! Drawing has also sparked my imagination in other ways, too. I am writing up some adventure hooks to go with my latest map. Watch this space!