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Loke Battlemat's "Castles, Crypts, and Caverns" vs. D&D "Starter Set : Lost Mine of Phandelver"


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EDIT: Review posted on RPG.net! https://www.rpg.net/reviews/archive/19/19119.phtml


(This thread is a partial draft of the review.)


As something of a litmus test of the recently released Loke Battlemat's "Castles, Crypts, and Caverns", I thought I'd see how well the maps fit with the D&D "Starter Set : Lost Mine of Phandelver". This set is the first starter set released, now free as a PDF on D&D Beyond, so I figured it would be the more popular D&D published adventures for the current version of D&D. This thread is a WIP as I try out the maps!


CC&C is primarily indoors, so, for the outdoor areas, I'm looking at the Loke Battlemat's "Box of Adventure : 2. Coast of Dread" for some outdoor areas. This set has sunken ships for the D&D "Ghosts of Saltmarsh" hardback adventure and (SPOILER) one of the D&D starter sets (END SPOILER). The maps are wipe-off, so you can easily modify the maps. Or you can use the Loke Battlemat's vinyl clings. I'm using the "Add-on Scenery - Wilderness". Loke Battlemats also just finished its BackerKit "Big Box of Dungeon Doors" campaign, so contact them if you're interested in them. Coast of Dread review : (Insert review link here)


(Insert pic of book covers here)


CC&C is sold as a two-volume set of spiral-bound battle maps, with 1" grids. You can either use the battle map as a two-page spread, or one page of the battle maps. You can place the battle maps adjacent to each other. Both CC&C and the BoA's have an "index" of thumbnail shots of their battle maps. I found this invaluable when *quickly* searching for a battle map to use with the D&D maps. Some gamers don't like the spiral-bound format, since you can't remove the maps, but I've noticed that the spiral format with the index lets you find the map you want easier and faster. It's a trade-off, and if you don't like the spiral-bound format, take a look at the Loke "Box of Adventure" maps, which are loose double-page spread maps. The BoA sets also have cut-outs of rooms, storage boxes, etc. which you can add to maps for some customization. The Loke battle maps aren't an *exact* match with the D&D ones, but I tried making the D&D maps from the D&D Reincarnated tiles and wasn't able to make the D&D maps, either! In any case, I've used dice to indicate the locations on the D&D map, as well as the monsters in the encounter, plus our intrepid heroes, so you can see there's plenty of room for fighting. Needless to say, spoilers ahead!




Part 1 : Goblin Ambush & Goblin Trail


While the Goblin Trail traps don't really need a battle map, for the Goblin Ambush, you can use the CoD swamp map (see below), adding some cover for the goblins, either by drawing in some trees and brush, or using the vinyl clings from the  "Add-on Scenery - Wilderness". The ambush involves two dead horses (which don't particularly affect combat), which you will end up drawing on the battle map. The Goblin Trail encounter is just an unattended snare and pit, so won't need a battle mat. Unless you decide to *combine* the encounters, with the party first encountering the pit and snare, then being attacked by the goblins. Use the Disadvantage rules if someone falls into the pit or is snared!



Part 1 : Cragmaw Hideout


(Insert pic of D&D map of Cragmaw Hideout here)


For the Cragmaw Hideout encounters, I used the CC&C books and one of the CoD maps. For the first and second outdoor locations (bottom of the map), I used a CoD swamp map, which easily doubles for a generic outdoor map. I then used trees and a river vinyl cling from the "Add-on Scenery - Wilderness" to create the first and second encounter forested areas more closely. I also used the wall clings to section off some cavern areas of the CC&C book. The Add-On Scenery lacks bridges, so I had to copy some dock sections from a CoD map, cut them out, and mount them on index card. After placing miniatures from the encounters onto the battle maps, you can see there's plenty of room for some good fights! Location 3 is a wolf den, 4 is a passageway, 5 is a goblin guarding a bridge, and 7 are three goblins next to a reservoir. In the next pictures, location 6 is a common area, with a southern room, from the location 4 passageway. Location 8 is the boss lair, north of location 7. The location 8 boss lair encounter calls for some storage boxes, so, like the bridge, I made copies of the storage room cutout from CoD, trimming it down to the size I wanted. 









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Part 2 : Phandalin


The NPC encounters in Phandalin usually don't require battle maps -- except one! Four ruffians will attack the party, inside an inn, in the main street, or wherever. I've picked out a battle map from the CC&C that can be used as an inn, and two battle maps from Coast of Dread that you can use. The upper battle map is actually a page of two cutouts that I haven't cut. The tavern in the lower battle map might be too small for a fight, but you can try...!



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Part 2 : Redbrand Hideout


(Insert Redbrand Hideout D&D map here)


The Redbrand Hideout has twelve areas. The CC&C and Coast of Dread battle maps cover the D&D map fairly well, although won't be a perfect match for the D&D map. IMO, Rooms without combat aren't as important to match the size and shape of the D&D mapped room, so long as they retain the function. For example, with the first D&D room, I used a map that didn't have the unusual staircase and cistern, but the room still functions as a storage area. Rooms with combat can be larger, so combatants have more room to maneuver. The original battle map area has two eating tables, so I covered them with the storage tiles to convert the room into a storage area. By overlapping the CoD area map, I made a secret passage similar to that in the D&D map. The second D&D room still functions as a barracks, as does the third area, a corridor, to the fourth area, a crypt room. (There's a door that's hard to see in the picture, between areas 3 and 4.)




This next setup folds out the crypt into a double-page spread, using the second battle map as area 5, the jail. The battle map jail is much larger than the D&D map, but you can alter it as you wish. The bottom part of the "jail" battle map is now used for area 3, the corridor. CC&C has an armory room, so I'm using this room as area 6, the armory, of the D&D map -- but not using the rest of the battle map for the hideout.




Well, not until the battle map is rotated! The east entrance of the storage, area 7, in the bottom picture, connects to the west exit of the armory, area 6, in the above picture. Strategically placed storage tiles block off the upper half of the top battle mat, which is not used. To the left of the upper battle mat is the secret passage on the D&D map. Below is the crevasse, area 8 on the D&D map. Despite the square look of the battle mat, it replicates the D&D crevasse, including a boulder that a creature lurks behind...




After leaving the crevasse, by the west side of the lower bridge (where the dice are), the players enter a corridor on the D&D map, which is now a large common area on the battle maps. To the south is another barracks, area 9. In fact, this is the same map used for area 1, except that it's also been rotated. To the north is the common room, area 10.




The boss lair, area 12, uses the battle map with the master bedroom. This battle map overlaps another battle map, used for area 11, the workshop. The secret stairs on the D&D map is to the right of the boss lair. Note that the D&D map has the boss lair connected to the common room through the workshop, but the battle map has the workshop as a dead-end. This doesn't affect the function of the map. An entire master bedroom might be a bit posh, so I've included some Coast of Despair rooms that might be more suitable for the boss lair. They're meant to be cut out and arranged on a larger map.




And I've also used the CoD rooms as the boss lair, with doors attaching the rooms, and a corridor made from overlapping battle mats, etc. on a battle map from CoD. The corridor continues to the right to the crevasse area. Dice indicate which areas of the battle maps correspond to the D&D map. Despite the boss room now being much smaller, it's actually the same size as on the D&D map! I suppose the secret entrance to the boss room is midway up the stairs so the entrance isn't at the head of his bed...!



Edited by ced1106
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Part 3: The Spider's Web




Triboar Trail: Wilderness Encounters


Random Encounters: For random encounters, CC&C and Coasts of Despair are a little lacking on non-paved open fields, and the Triboar Trail is primarly on open field. However, you can hand-wave that the random encounters are actually in dangerous wooded and hilly areas not shown on the map, so you can use a forest setup similar to the Cragmaw Hideout, or the bare hill battle map which I'll be showing in the Wyvern Tor encounter. Additionally, Conyberry is a ruined village, so you can use the ruins maps from Coasts of Despair for random encounters around Conyberry. I'll be using such a setup for the Agatha's Lair encounter. If you wish to create more open-field encounters in this area, you can use the "Box of Adventure : 1. Valley of Peril" (loose maps in a boxed set) or "Wilderness Book of Battle Maps" books (spiral-bound maps in a two-volume set). Loke Battle Mats also has their "Big Book of Battle Mats" and "Giant Book of Battle Mat" spiral-bound book series, although these books have different dimensions than the CC&C books.


(Insert links to reviews of BoA1 and Wilderness books here)


Agatha's Lair: For this setup, I've used the Coasts of Despair rooms cutout (still not cut out!) and some doors to create Agatha's ruined home, as well as the ruins maps for part of the ruined village of Conyberry. The Coasts of Despair ruins are supposed to be underground, but I think they're fine for above-ground ruins as well. Note that I've thrown in a random goblin encounter to cause some trouble for the party. Also note that it just so happens that the Coasts of Despair rooms cutout makes for a good magic-user's ruined home. If you look closely, there's a bedroom, wizard's room, storage area, and ruined floor. 




Old Owl Well: The Old Owl Well has an evil magic-user and his twelve zombies exploring some wizardly ruins. The wizard's tower is from CC&C, while the fountain and paved battle mat are from Coasts of Despair. (CoD also has an actual well if you want to use it instead.) The "Add-On Scenery - Wilderness" vinyl clings has some clings for the magic-user's campsite, and some additional ruins you can add to the battle map. I've also included another setup for the encounter, which uses the wizard's tower and heavily modified fountain courtyard from CC&C; the nice shrubbery and bushes have been covered with rocks, logs, and tent!






Wyvern Tor: This encounter takes place in the hills, with some orcs in a cave, and a lone orc sitting on a boulder as a scout. This double-page spread from CC&C does an excellent job as a battle map for this encounter. If you'd like, you can further develop this cave the other cavern maps in CC&C for more adventuring. The Wilderness Encounter monsters fit a cave and hill setting quite well. I've also noticed that many of the Loke Battle Mat" cavern maps actually work fine as outdoor maps for hilly areas and above-ground ruins.



Edited by ced1106
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Part 3 : Ruins of Thundertree


(Insert picture of Thundertree)


Despite the map showing a forested area, the town is in open field. So you can use the Coast of Despair village and other maps for a more open village, and add trees and ruins from the "Add-On - Wilderness" vinyl cling set. I've also selected a wizard's tower from the CC&C books for the dragon's lair (he entered through the roof, which explains the rocks), and webbed ruins for the spider encounter. CC&C and CoD have plenty of other maps and cutouts you can add to this village to expand this area. 





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(Need to add more text to this post.)


Cragmaw Castle:


The CC&C castle battle maps are exterior shots, and differ from the D&D maps, which are cutaway views. The interior rooms, then, don't have castle features (eg. arrow slits), but that means you can use the interior rooms more generically. Some interior rooms have a double-spread, so are nice and large (see the shrine below), so are quite suitable for a castle, yet they're also generic enough to be the interior of a building in a town, or, as a single page, a large room in a dungeon.


The first picture, of locations 1-3 on the D&D map, is a little complicated. The two third rooms are the round towers in the left battle map, but I ended up representing them with two corners of the right interior battle map. The interior castle yard of the left battle map is not used ("Your characters can't see that part of the map"). The upper right and lower left rooms of the second battle map are rooms that *lead* to those locations of the D&D map, not that it the characters would notice. You'll notice that in the way I'm using the battle maps, I'm adding more rooms to the D&D map. These rooms can be used to add more encounters. The castle in the D&D map is in ruins, so I've used the "Add-On - Wilderness" rocks and debris vinyl clings to modify the maps. You can still use wipe-off pens to draw any room changes.




The next picture are locations 4 and 7 on the D&D map, representing a storage area that serves as a goblin barracks, and a kitchen area that is the goblin mess hall. Most of the Loke Battle Mats have the middle of the edges of the maps open so you can connect any battle map to another, but that doesn't mean you can't offset a battle map and use doors if you have other ideas!




To the north of location 2, we have location 6, the hobgoblin barracks, and location 5, a storage room. Again, by overlapping books, I'm using only part of the covered battle map.




I changed my mind here! Instead of the location 5 having a door to location 9, the shrine, I used the corridor portion of the upper left battle map as an entrance to location 9. Note how large the shrine battle map is, quite suitable for a castle!




One of the battle map castle walls is used for location 10, an alternative entrance. The right battle map is actually a crypt battle map, with the "Add-On - Wilderness" rocks to hide the crypt drawing. I changed the entrances of the rooms on the battle maps to correspond with the D&D map, with doors and rocks (as said, the ceiling has collapsed in various places of the castle). 





To the north of the not-crypt rooms is location 11, the ruined tower. Some rubble from the "Add-On - Wilderness" vinyl clings indicate collapse of the walls and roof. Between the two battle maps I partially covered a generic tile map from the Coasts of Dread to make a corridor between locations 8 and 12. 




And the corridor does indeed lead to location 14, the boss lair! Yeah, that's totally not a drow in there, is it?



Edited by ced1106
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Part 4 : Wave Echo Cave


(WIP -- More text to add)


The Wave Echo Cave D&D map is mostly caverns, and CC&C's cavern and other maps are a good fit for this map! You can add furniture and such with the "Add On - Dungeon" vinyl clings to the maps, although I didn't do it myself. On the D&D map, location 1, the cave entrance, has a previous party's abandoned campsite. Location 2 is a catacomb of corridors, replaced with a battle map of cavern passages. Location 3 is a cavern also replaced with cavern passages. You can find other CC&C and Coast of Dread maps to better represent the D&D map, but I felt that the cave mines would look better with section that was a maze of twisty little passages, all alike! To the north, for location 4, the guard room, and location 5, the assayer's office, and location 6, the south barracks, and 7, the ruined store room, I used room maps from Coast of Dread, covered to only use a portion of the map. I think the furniture, webs, and other dungeon dressing from the "Add On - Dungeon" vinyl clings could be used to tailor the battle map rooms to the D&D map locations.




Location 8 is the Fungi Cavern, and CC&C has a cavern map with fungi! To the north is location 13, the Starry Cavern, with location 14, the Wizard's Quarter. CC&C has a matching map, with both a cavern and room to represent these locations.




Not connected to location 8, location 9, the Great Cavern, is represented by two two-page cavern spreads from CC&C. You an see how you can make a two-page area for a huge cavern with minimal walls. Plenty of room for a fight!




North of location 2 is location 10, the Dark Pool. CC&C has a two-page spread of a cavern with a pool which matches these locations. To the east of location 10, is location 11, the North Barracks, and location 12, the Smelter Cavern, as another two-page spread. To better match the D&D map, a door has been added between locations 11 and 12, and part of the battle map, where there's a passage, has been covered by the booklet. 




We've already covered location 13, the Starry Cavern, and location 14, the Wizard's Quarters. To the north of these locations is location 15, the Forge of Spells, represented by a round room. (Maybe I should have rotated it 90 degrees to better match the D&D map.) To the north is location 16, the Booming Cavern, whose water entrance is represented by the same battle map used in location 10.




Location 17, the Old Stream Bed, and location 18, the Collapsed Cavern, are represented with a two-page spread of a descending cavern with a river. 




Finally, location 19, the Temple of Dumathoin, and location 10, the Priest's Quarters, are represented by this two-page spread of a temple.



Edited by ced1106
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