Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Great Wall of Vaasa

Thirty game years ago, a war was fought in Bloodstone Pass between the monster armies of Zhengyi the Witch King and the civilized forces of the Barony of Bloodstone. At the forefront of the war was Sir Gareth Dragonsbane, who was to become the next baron of Bloodstone and eventually king of Damara. When the war ended, Lord Gareth built two massive walls at either end of Bloodstone Pass. The southern wall was called Damara Gate, and the northern wall, Vaasa Gate.

Like its southern counterpart, Vaasa Gate is more than just a wall. It is a well-manned fortress that stretches from one steep mountain face to another. The Gate hosts a thriving market where civilized folk from either side of the wall may trade. Its interior chambers serve as stock rooms and living quarters not only for the soldiers stationed there but also for adventurers on monster hunts.

The most detailed description of Vaasa Gate that I could find was from the Forgotten Realms supplement The Bloodstone Lands by R.A. Salvatore. I couldn't find any maps of Vaasa Gate anywhere, however, so I only had Mr. Salvatore's description to go by.

I wanted to have picture references on which to base my version of Vaasa Gate. I figured that no other real life structure comes closer to looking like Vaasa Gate than the Great Wall of China, so I downloaded a few of its photos from the Web.

From a military standpoint, if anyone were to build a fortified wall, the construction site should be higher than the rest of the surrounding area. Whoever fights from an elevated point has an advantage over anyone fighting from a lower position. Hence, my first task was to hammer the initially flat area into an uneven slope, the highest walkable end of which was to be the location of Vaasa Gate. I created a steep cliff face to border one end of Vaasa Gate. The other end is supposed to be half a mile away, far beyond the limits of the area that I created. I used trees to mark the limits of the walkable area opposite the cliff.

It took me two days to reach the point where I could say that Vaasa Gate is pretty much completed. Until I release "Faithless" at the Vault, however, I reserve the right to go back to any of my "completed" areas and rework them. The more I tinker with the toolset, the better I seem to get at creating areas. At some point, I'll probably go back and improve my earlier work.

Edit, May 7, 2008: Originally, this post started with the phrase "Forty game years ago." When I reviewed the chronology that I later posted in this blog, I found that I was off by ten years. It's not that I'm poor at math. Far from it. Actually, it's my memory that isn't so good. This is why I have to document my ideas. If I don't, I'm liable to get my details mixed up.


dgraf said...

Great stuff Elysius! Excellent color coordination. Thanks for stoping by the blog. I have added your link.

Liso said...

oh! I can see myself getting caught by the guards picking those pretty flowers. LOL ok, maybe not. They would probably behead me!

All kidding aside. Looking good Mr. Elysius!

Frank Perez said...

Thanks for the compliments, Liso and Dennis. I think that battlefields look much nicer when they have flowers in them. :P

Wyrin said...

Nice countryside feel. Vaasa isn.t somewhere I know much about, but the wall looks good, and thanks for the lore too.

i find it hard to tinker with areas once they've got to a near complete stage - usually i ge frustrated by oldmistakes I see and want to redo the whole thing!

Frank Perez said...

Hi, Wyrin, glad you liked the wall. This module is kind of big on walls for some reason. There's one in the Fugue Plane that a certain Dove is dying to tear down. :D More on that at another time.

Amraphael said...

Very nice looking shots! I'm really found of you light settings.

Frank Perez said...

Thanks, Amraphael. :)

dirtywick said...

Check out also I think it's called the Promise of the Witch King and Road of the Patriarch or something like that (the Entreri/Jarlaxle series) by Salvatore. They're fairly new novels and I believe take place in their entirety in Vaasa/Damara. Don't know if there's anyting about the Gate in them, though.

Frank Perez said...

Thanks for the heads up, Dirtywick. I'll check the bookstores to see if they have any of those books.