Throwdown Thursday: The Worldknot, a Creepy Astral Floating Island Battlemap for 5e D&D
You know, it’s really hard to map a liminal space like the Astral Plane, which means that battlemaps are really hard to find. I guess the whole lack of geography makes for uninteresting fights or something. I don’t know. Nor do I care, because I think that battles with weird geography are kind of cool to sprinkle in to really nail down the fantasy in my fantasy role-playing game. You get to do some cool stuff, twist perspective, play with elevation, and completely justify bottomless pits. Tell me that isn’t cool. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Besides, I gave you guys an astral monster on Monday, and I’m not going to let that stand without an interesting map to use it on. That’d be rude. So, in the spirit of handing you guys some fun goodies every week and trusting you to make a narrative out of some weirdly cool stuff, let me introduce you to the World Knot, a couple of floating motes of solid ground in the grey, shifting Astral Sea.
So there’s a bit to unpack here. I’ve only gotten to get the Astral Plane to the table twice, and both times were a pretty long time ago. But before I fired up my mapmaking software and began sorting assets, I revisited the blurb in the Dungeon Master’s guide. The thing that really jumped out at me was the concept of the color-pools that link the Astral to other planes of existence. That’s got some juice. So I started thinking about a place in the twisting Astral the might be a conflux of dream logic and a weird crossroads.
Basically, if I were a Hound of Dreams, where would I hang out?
So, we’ve got three motes of earth with some creepy hovering stepping stones and rickety bridges and stairs. There’s also a well that is covered in spreading plant-life, leaking it out over the bare stone of the northernmost earthmote like some kind of eco-terrorist version of the Zerg Creep from StarCraft. On the lowest mote, on the left side, there’s a color-pool growing some weird crystalline formations that are casting some light.
But what about that ruined circle in the middle with the bonfire and stuff? I don’t know, really. This is your game. When I run it, though, it’s going to be a dream-construct. Someone’s leftover dream has a little bit of permeance here, and that’s drawn our Hound in to pick over the scraps. Was it a memory? A hope or a wish? Maybe it was a nightmare…oooh! A three-sided conflict across these motes while the psychic winds blow could be super fun. Be sure to take advantage of the varying elevation…maybe grant everyone advantage to Athletics checks to jump gaps while the winds are up.
There it is, guys. Happy sailing on the Astral Seas. Let me know how it rolls!