This week’s map was a combination of two Patron ideas, a multi-level desert cliff-side and an cliff-side with giant eagle nests. I think there is a lack of giant nest battle maps, so hopefully this will be useful for Griffin, Harpies and Roc encounters.
I love creating these organic, environment maps, I’m really developing my style with each one! Hopefully this will be useful for those running campaigns in the desert and if you need a more generic temperate version I’ve added one as a variant.
The sun beats down on you, harsh and unforgiving, creating stark contrast between the pale stone and shadowy crevices along the rocky cliff path. The wind, dry and furnace hot, rushes across the desolate landscape and up the cliff side to blast your faces with sand and desert heat.
Below you is a bright ribbon of cool blue water snaking its way along the base of the cliff, lush green foliage sprouting from its banks. Looking out across the land you see nothing but sand rolling in waves across the world, an endless sea of dunes, only broken by the odd outcropping of rock thrusting up from the sand like islands on an ocean.
As you reach the next bend on the winding path you see a platform of sand and stone ahead. It is covered in detritus, sticks, branches and even small tree trunks, collected into huge circular piles. As you move closer you realise these are not simply piles of wood but huge nests skilfully woven together for strength and protection.
And then you hear a cry on the wind, a high pitched, noble call. An alarm, a warning and a challenge! A shadow flickers across you, blocking the sun for an instant. You look up and then down. Lifted by the winds from the desert below, huge creatures rise slowly into view, their wings hardly moving but to best catch the thermals that keep them aloft. Their eyes are piecing and unforgiving, you have trespassed into their home. They continue to climb into the sun bleached sky, and then in an instant the wings snap to their sides and they dive at you, talons extended and maws open in a defiant call.
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- The sun is: blinding, baking you in your armour, bleaching the landscape and is unforgiving to all living things.
- The rocks are: desiccated, crumbling and burning to the touch, you could literally cook an egg on them.
- The wind is: Hot and picks up sand that blasts your face. It leeches all moisture from your skin, drying out your lips and making them crack painfully.
- The air is: oven hot, bone dry with no scent at all.
- The Ground: has been so heated by the sun it can be felt through your boots.
Notes and Tips
- This could be an encounter with Eagles, Griffins, Hippogriff, Manticores, Harpies or even a Roc (or a few of them if you really hate your players).
- Use the open air section to have hovering mobs dive towards the party.
- The nests could be abandoned and something else now lives there!
- Nest robbers are stealing eggs, if the party help out the eagles maybe there will be a ride as a reward!
- The party needs a ride and the eagles/Griffins want them to prove their worth in MORTAL COMBAT! Eagle duel!
- Your party comes across some harpies raiding a griffin nest.
- Cliffs can be a pain to deal with, however if you don’t just want to kill a party member that falls off, just remember this cliff has multiple levels, have them drop 10-20 feet onto a ledge and then spend a round climbing back up.
- The nests could have parasites (giant ticks or fleas) that bit the party if they get within range.
- The nests could have bodies or trinkets that have been collected by the occupants. LOOT!
I think that’s about it for this week, good luck with your campaigns and as always happy adventuring!