Steampunk Oriental Castle 1: Design

For Game Theory Expo 2019 in Houston I am building a set of large 1-inch square grid maps of an Oriental city complete with harbor and castle. The maps are loosely based on a city called Minkai from a role playing setting created by a friend of mine.

These maps will be used in a Riftwalker campaign, a setting co-designed with the above friend using a gaming system of my own making.

The gist of the setting is that across the multiverse the forces of Order and Chaos each battle for supremacy. Once one side gains sufficient influence over a given universe, a chain reaction will rapidly and permanently convert that realm to support only that type of life and not the other. Most of the universes are thus completely dominated by Chaos or Order, but there remain a few where their influence is nearly balanced, where the natives embody both Order and Chaos. Realms like ours. Should either Chaos or Order convert one of these universes, all the natives would be snuffed out in an instant.

There exists a group of disparate heroes, individuals from diverse realms who have become aware of this threat. Each has pledged to answer the call to prevent either faction from converting another universe. When a purple-ringed portal appears, they rush through and join with their brethren to defend the threatened world, no matter how different from their own it may be.

Characters can come from any background: high fantasy, cyberpunk, post-apocalyptic, sci-fi, ancient Rome, super heroes, modern warfare, ice age tribes, you name it. The gaming system gives the characters balanced powers with fluff that matches their background, so players can choose whatever type of character appeals to them.



During the gaming convention, each day will have three sequential games played on the maps, with each game taking place on a different section. Each section is on its own independent base that can be bolted together with the others to create a single giant rigid map. Each map base is 32″ x 48″ (81 cm x 122 cm). When all three are put together this creates a 2’4″ x 12′ (81 cm x 366 cm) map. Nicely fitting on two 6′ (183 cm) folding tables.

In the following Google SketchUp images, only the castle map has its base shone.




Harbor/Canal District

The first game session takes place in the harbor and canal district, the map on the far left in the overview image. Notable features include:

  • A giant boat with playable exterior (and possibly partially playable interior).
  • A canal area with raised platforms containing warehouses (some of which may have playable interiors), stacks of crates and goods, all surrounded by canals with multiple bridges.
  • And a magically sealed gate leading to the town proper that requires the players to find keys corresponding to the elements to open (the goal of the first play session each day).

Markets and Mansions

The central map represents the market district and the mansions of the well-to-do. Lots of market stalls in a warren-like maze will fill the empty space to the left. The mansions have playable interiors, garden-filled courtyards, and roofs that are shallowly sloped so that action can take place on the rooftops. And, as on the previous map, players in the second session must round up elemental keys to open the door to the castle.

Castle of the Clockwork Empress

The castle is loosely designed on samurai castles. All play will take place inside this time around, though the exteriors could potentially support grid-style play. Much like my pyramid terrain, the castle will have multiple removable levels stacked on top of each other. Each level will have different rooms. Some areas will reveal multi-level interiors when the walls are removed. The ultimate goal of the third session is to collect the elemental keys hidden around the castle to stop the clockwork empress from opening a portal to the realm of Order in her throne room at the top.

If I have enough time, I plan to incorporate LED lighting elements throughout.

First step: Building the bases.

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