Please let me introduce you to our latest map, the River Rapids. This map features a vibrant color scheme, some large rock faces fit for a campsite, and a collection of boulders that might serve as a bridge.
The first group to ever explore the Feywild. Well, probably. First to survive it. Hopefully.
After a week-long journey through the clustered forests and crystalline springs, the three adventurers were now coming to the end of their expedition. One more day and they would reach their destination: the portal back home.
Their final campsite had been set at the edge of the river rapids. The waters of tropical turquoise cascaded over smooth, marbled, white-grey rocks. Every splash of falling water sent a mist into the air, casting shimmering rainbows across the landscape. A cooling breeze rustled through autumnal-hued trees, carrying the light scent of flowers and honey. The scene was picturesque beyond reasonable belief. Were Heath not standing in it, taking it all in, he would be sure it was naught but a fairytale.
Ronan and Sarah sat behind him in camp, heating the last of their rations. Cooking them was pointless but the heat softened them enough to swallow without tasting too much. Heath was meditating on the rocks, taking in the sounds and smells. The sounds of running water. So much running water. Wow, Heath had drunk a lot of water that day.
“I’ll be right back. Save me some.” Sarah waved a strip of dried meat in his direction. Her expression was agreeable, but far from satisfied.
Some distance from the camp, between the expansive roots of a purple-barked oak, Heath relieved himself. Pulling his pants back up and securing his belt, he turned to return to camp. Before him, lighting the trunks and shrubs, was the orange glow of candlelight. Heath had not passed a clearing, but one had now opened before him. It was filled by a long, ornate banquet table. Sarah and Ronan were seated, shoveling down all manner of food. Turkey legs, strings of berries, and eager slurps from wine goblets filled their mouths.
“Heath! Join us! Come and eat!” Ronan threw his hand upward, tossing wine from its rim. The droplets hung in the air, glittering against the light. Heath crept forward, apprehensively drawing a seat. Behind him, for just a moment, he thought he heard laughter. His imagination, surely.
“How did… what is all this?” He asked, lowering into the chair.
“Food! It’s all for us, as a gift!” The two were smiling from ear to ear, emoting wildly with food-filled hands. As Heath sat, a warmth filled his core. It was just wood and yet somehow felt more comfortable than anything he had ever known. He could feel the heat coming from the food in front of him, and the meat glistened with moisture. Heath couldn’t help but smile.
The three sat and ate. They filled themselves with meats, fruits, and wine, feasting and celebrating. As each of their stomachs should have grown full, they were inspired by a reignited appetite. The air was still and sweet, and the warmth of the candles and torches kept them comfortable. Soon enough, they stopped noticing the childlike laughter that surrounded them.
Heath smiled at his friends in glee. They were all so joyful. What a fantastic time they had had in the Feywild. He found it hard to believe that they had originally come for… what was it? Why had they come to the forests? Weren’t they about to…
Heath blinked. For a single moment, the forest was drained of its light. The candles, feast, and table were gone and in the darkness were the three, sat on gnarled stumps. Only they were not the same as those who had entered the Feywild. Heath’s friends had withered and aged, their skin sagging over emaciated faces. Their eyes were sunken, glazed, and distant. Surrounding them, hovering on insectoid wings, were small, grey creatures. Eight beaded, black eyes coated their faces above mouths of jagged fangs. Their bodies twitched and danced with spasmodic giggling. The same giggling came from over Heath’s shoulder. His eyes drifted down, to his own hands. They were sore and thin, the skin stuck to the bone. So much older than he remembered…
Blinking again, the feast returned. His friends welcomed him back with wide grins. Heath smiled back, thankful that the moment had passed. And with another bite of food, so had his memory of it.
– by Troy McConnell
More content by Troy
I wanted to explore some more high contrast line work for this map, which you can see at play in the leaves of the trees, the gaps in the rocks faces, and in the rapids. I was really laying down the ink (at least compared to usual) and had a lot of fun with it. I’d like to explore it more in the future.
The color scheme is also something a little beyond my habits. I really squeezed as much contrast as I could out of the fiery autumn leaves and the glacial blue river. I think I’ve crossed some line and made this into a fey-wild map in doing so, but hey, people were requesting those!
I intended this map to serve as a campsite, but it might also be a challenging river crossing (something is always lurking in the waters when it comes time to cross a river) and/or skill challenge. For a low level party I would just wedge a sword in one of the hard to reach boulders and dare my players to go get it. The dice will always make a fun time of that!
There are a few ideas, but I’d love to hear what you think up. Please leave a comment!
River Rapids Map Download
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