Abandoned Mine at Drakes Bite Gorge - Rudy Francis Gauthier

edited June 2018 in DesignFinder Chat
Named for the teeth that can sometimes be found along the old waterway or in the walls themselves, the gorge is said to be the resting place of a long dead black dragon. These rumors are only reinforced by the sickness that plagues miners and amateur treasure hunters drawn by the local legends.

Sheer walls raise from the valley floor and the once fast-moving river has overflowed its banks, turning the valley into a marsh. Multiple openings pierce the face of the cliff, showing where natural fissures have been enlarged. An overhang forty feet up the side of the cliff face shrouds the mine entrance in permanent shadow. Pieces of rubble and outward facing sharpened branches block the three main entrances. Two thin streams of cloudy water drain from two of the three entrances, unhindered by the primitive blockades. Close inspection shows that the water contains red flecks. All the trees on this side of the river are draped with moss, but the leaves of the trees in the marsh have turned brown or fallen completely away. A great wasp hive is in the southern copse of trees. The camp has been cleared of smaller vegetation, but light undergrowth lines the perimeter. 

The camp was abandoned a year before, after multiple workers fell ill from a wasting disease. These sicknesses were not caused by some ancient dragon bones, but are a result of the miners drinking from water tainted with russett mold spores or being cut on sharp rocks containing traces of viridium. The camp, while rough, is well laid out and was not hastily abandoned. The workers took most of their tools, or anything else that may be useful, with them when they left. The camp has not yet been reclaimed by the forest, and multiple wood cottages still stand, with the ones deeper in the marsh leaning precariously. The raised foundation of the stone kitchen and storeroom has protected it from the water. Most of the structures still contain furniture, as it was coarsely made and not worth the effort of shipping it downriver when the camp closed.

A shallow channel has been cut into most of the mine floors allowing for drainage. Condensation beads on the walls and the air inside is warmer and wetter than outside. Molds, fungi, and other growths are quickly colonizing the chambers and passages. The tunnels slope upward to the south. The round chamber is a natural cavern with an ankle deep pool of water along one wall. A deep, red mold covers most of the southern wall with fresh growth. 

The central mine office has two heavy, wooden doors. Inside are several desks and tables. On the north wall are two iron-bound chests that are bolted directly into the stone. Iron shutters cover the deep windows allowing a small amount of fresh air to reach the office.


  • edited June 2018

    There is a lot a GM could grab to make this a compelling adventure location. You have the implied threat in the black dragon. You introduce a mystery illness that closed the camp and give a couple of explanations. I would have liked more explicit threats beyond the wasp hive, though. Perhaps vegepygmies have begun to settle in the abandoned mine where the russet mold grows. It wouldn’t have taken many words to introduce this as a potential threat.

    The map is very clean despite all you have on it. It’s apparent to me this is a mine, and I can follow the channels (at first, I thought they were tracks, but the writeup clarified it) going through the mine. You gave consideration for quartering of the miners. You also clearly identified the locations of all the objects and hazards. The only confusing things for me were the “gaps” leading out of the office and storage room. It took me a couple of read-throughs to understand these were windows. I think some sort of notation on the map would have helped immensely and would not have further crowded the map.

    You could have tightened up the description to give yourself more room for additional threats or other interesting features (For example, shorten “Named for the teeth that can sometimes be found…” to “Named for the teeth sometimes found…”). There are a handful of grammatical errors (For example, “Sheer walls raise…” should be “Sheer walls rise…”).

    Overall, your adventure location shows a lot of promise. The map has a lot of useful elements and potential hazards. I think a more obvious threat would have pushed this over the top. I am firmly on the fence for this location.

    I’m only one voice among many, though, and the voters may see something different, or have different criteria they use to make their determinations. Good luck in the voting!

  • edited June 2018

    Congratulations, Rudy. Putting yourself out there to compete in anything is hard, and designing RPGs is hard. Particularly designing adventure settings or locations. You have to be able to suggest some ideas about personalities, plots, terrain, and more, and have GMs chomping at the bit to add your location to their regular game. Let's see how you did!

    I believe in positive feedback and honest criticism that should make you better at every part of this gig. So to start positively, I want to say that I, too, am a hand-drawn map guy. I wish you'd color in the solid stone so we don't lose our bearings, but a cartographer could handle that and bring your dangerous mine to life.

    Maybe a minor nitpick that others won't share, but I am always a little bummed when the object of an adventure is something the local experts could probably diagnose and handle without the involvement of PCs. Are you telling me that miners with enough savvy to mine...oh...what are we mining again? You don't tell us.

    But...no one in the entire camp knew anyone who could identify a russet mold? In a fantasy world, that's a mining hazard. It feels like inviting PCs to explore the cause of a collapsed mine, only to learn the miners didn't build any support beams to prevent their ceilings from becoming unstable.

    As I reread the prose and review the map..I don't find any bad guys with an intelligence score. So...if you handle the russet mold, it's no longer an adventure location. No plot. No villain. No room to expand the adventures using the information you've given us. It's not the least adventury adventure location among this round's submissions, but it leaves a lot of excitement on the table.

    I hope this critique is useful to you in future rounds or contests. Good luck!

  • edited June 2018
    I wanted to read and comment every entry before I gave a thumb's up or down recommendation. I am supporting FOUR entries to advance from this round based on map, adventure potential, and quality prose. And I can't recommend this one to advance based on my comments above.
  • edited June 2018

    This abandoned mine encampment gets off to a great start, with a dead dragon and spreading sickness. ... And then all the magic seems to flow out of it, I'm afraid. The sickness has nothing to do with the dragon (which I guess isn't even there at all?) but rather the more prosaic tainted water. I feel like there's the setup for a great location, but I'm not sure what the adventure is. It appears to be completely uninhabited other than a single bee hive and some russet mold, with all the possible treasure having been taken during the orderly abandonment. I'm not sure why PCs would come or stay here, which is a shame, since I think it would otherwise have potential as a neat adventure locale, with a few different types of terrains, and some good options for players to make decisions.

    For the most part, I think this is a very good hand-drawn map, though I might have liked to see the areas of solid rock shaded in a little more. I like the multiple entrances of the mine and that there are different ways to go through it. It might be cramped in some quarters (if there were something there to fight), but that's what you'd expect with a mine and there are a few larger spots where you could stage a combat (not to mention outside). Several of the buildings outside are square, but in this case, that makes sense for that type of housing, and other structures have more interesting shapes. My one question is the area between the bog and the mine, as I'm not quite sure what that's meant to be ... Just dry land? And is that a pair of tables and a couple chairs in the middle of that area? This also has one of my bugaboos when it comes to maps -- the compass has due north  pointing left. Unless there's a specific/important reason north isn't "up" on a map, that's the easiest way to align it, as most people are going to default to calling it that anyway

    Still, much as I think that's an excellent map, I don't think I can overlook what's missing from the overall location. I'm afraid I do not recommend this to advance, but I could see the voters feeling differently.

  • Congratulations on making it through Round 2. Whether you continue on to Round 3 is important, but don't overlook the achievement you've made getting to this point.  I never have.

    First, from a standpoint of viewing your map and the difficulty a cartographer might have bringing it to life for a professional publication, it's good.  I like the hand-drawn work and I can easily make out the details and match what you've illustrated with what you've written. Not to pile onto the shading of the solid rock, but it would have been a bit easier to assimilate if the solid areas were shaded, even lightly, or just stippled or crosshatched or otherwise set apart from the passages.

    Second, from an exciting location for an encounter or adventure standpoint, this is suitable. You have differing terrain and features as well as some natural hazards, like the mold and hive in addition to the movement difficulties of the varying bog sections. I could use this location as a mine assault with the PCs heading in and clearing out the mine, possibly with some interloper enemies in the camp buildings first. Or I could reverse it and have the PCs trying to hold or hole-up in the mine against a force.  Either fighting amidst the camp buildings or holding the barricades while firing out the shutters of the mine office.

    At its base, the map shows a location with some potential for multiple uses to fuel a GM's imagination, though the actual location has little to do with the name or anything to set it apart from any other potential mine location, but it has multiple paths, entrances, and places to set things within to suit a situation.

    Longer version 
    I like the map personally. I think the hand-drawing was crisp and clean.  Having said that, one advantage I think using this option has over the typically square by square tile approach is that you can create curves and organic chambers and features that some mapping programs would have a harder time doing (or at least would require using a tool for). As such, while I don't mind the buildings being square or the mine rooms being square (you've made it pretty obvious this group was disciplined, orderly, and probably well-organized), I find the fact that most of the mine, tunnels, and chambers are straight as an arrow, north/south/east/west types.

    You got the exterior beautifully, the bog lines curve organically, allowing me to picture a faint slope or varying terrain, your trees are organic looking and non-blocky, but the tunnels are otherwise straight lines. I certainly appreciate the ease this makes on GMs for giving their players descriptions and those players making their own maps, but realistically, a mine will curve and flow following a vein of ore, which doesn't necessarily run straight. Otherwise it will also utilize existing passages, carved by the water flow, for instance, but those likely aren't going to be as straight as you have. Obviously certain areas might have been squared-out or straightened by the miners for some reason, but you've got basically one round cavern in the whole place and the rest of the passages follow nice, neat grid-lines. You could have used this map to create a less regimented type of cavern structure, difficulty on the GM describing which way the PCs are facing at any time or giving exact length by width dimensions for chambers be damned.
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