Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Freelancer Aspirations: Thrumbolg Extras Part I

So, Dragon issue 420 got published today, and with it the article I wrote with Tim Eagon titled "Thrumbolg, First Lord of Mag Tureah." I'll post something next week or so about the real source material for the story we told, but in the meantime wanted to give people the following visual guide.

The article includes a table of random destinations for the myriad magical portals in the underground citadel of Mag Tureah. Almost all of these are based off of real-world buildings or geography, and I thought I should do people the courtesy of showing them what we were looking at as we came up with the destinations.

A guide to the visual inspirations for the random portals in Mag Tureah:


1. A ruined castle of glass atop an earthmote, spiral staircase connecting it to the ground.

My inspiration here is the "Castle in the Air" from The Phantom Tollbooth. If you haven't read the book, it's fabulous. Go read it and then come back to read the rest of the post. I'll wait. Shouldn't take you more than an afternoon.

The mouth of a flooded cavern, the beginning
of an undersea road paved with huge stones.
2.  I've known for a long time about the Bimini Road rock formation, but until I saw the picture above, I'd forgotten about how large many of the rocks are.

3. A partially toppled circle of stone menhirs overgrown by jungle vines -- I was thinking primarily of what Stonehenge might look like in a jungle environment.

A gargantuan statue buried in desert sand up
to its monstrous head.

  4. For most of its existence, the body of the Sphinx has been buried until only the head & shoulders are visible. Start here, and swap on your monster's head of choice. (Or, take monstrous to refer to size.)

5. An abandoned dragon’s aerie perched on the lip of an active volcano. Nothing more need be said here, I think.

6. A temple to a long-dead god whose collapsed  ceiling opens to the night sky. (I'm sticking with our original phrasing here because I think it's more poetic).  I haven't been able to re-locate the picture that was the inspiration here, but any number of ruined cathedrals and monasteries could serve as a jumping-off point.

7. A forgotten chamber that opens up to the sewers of the largest city on the continent.  Like the dragon's aerie in number 5, I don't think a lot more need be said. Kudos to Spiderweb Software's "Avernum 2" as a starting point.

A tower overlooking a courtyard filled with petrified soldiers standing in neat rank.

8.  My inspiration here was the famous terracotta army, at the tomb of the first Qin emperor in China. I learned around the time we were writing this section that the army was originally painted!

A deserted priory sprawling across a rocky tidal island
 9. The image above is of Mont St. Michel in France. Until the causeway was built in the 19th century, the monastery was completely cut off from the mainland at high tide.

A crumbling observatory open to the skies above
 10. You might have seen the Caracol thanks to the major "Mayan apocalypse" phenomenon last year. I knew about it long before that, and still love this image.

A covered bridge, woven from the roots of
living trees, over a murky river.
 11. This is a real thing. The bridges take years to create, and can be found in the Khasi Hills of India.

A frozen city built on a terraced mountaintop,
with no trace of its former inhabitants.
 12. The photograph above is of Machu Picchu in Peru; we simply encased it in ice.
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