Sunday, March 27, 2011

ICE MERP Illustrations from the Kin Strife Module

I drew a group of illustrations for ICE's Middle Earth Role Playing module for the Kin Strife back in 1995.  The Kin-strife presents the people, politics, and armies of Gondor under the repressive rule of Castamir the Usurper during the civil war of the Kin-strife in 1437 of the Third Age. The six largest cities of the South-kingdom - Pelargir, Umbar, Lond Ernil, Osgiliath, Minas Anor, and Minas Ithil - are described along with their administrative structures, military organization, and legal systems.

Map of the City of Osgiliath near Minas Tirith

The map of Osgiliath shown above was hand drawn on 11x17 vellum paper with technical pens and again, has no text because it is the pre-press version without the final page layout.  It was photographically shot down to fit on a single page for the module.  I was given a previous rendition of the map as a starting point that only had the lower half of the city shown and traced this to draw half of the map, including parts of the bridges.  I think that the map that half of this drawing was traced from was a color original and I created the other half in a similar style but in black and white.  This was fun because I got to design half of the city and some of its features like the street layout, the canals and some of the additional fortified manor houses.  The dotted lines in the river represent the chains used to keep enemy ships from entering the river that runs through the city.  This map also represents the city before it was later ruined in the civil war and conflicts with Sauron's forces even later.

Unfortunately, the original 11x17 drawing was lost when ICE closed its doors.  They gave me all of my original artwork at the time and I assumed it was in the package but when I went to look later all I found was an 11x17 copy and some 8 1/2 x 11 reductions which is what this scan was made from.  I may be able to track down a better quality scan but I have no idea who ended up with the original or if it even survives to this day.  It is my favorite of all of the city maps I did for them and I really wanted to frame the the original drawing but its gone at this point.  This scan is not that great of a quality because it is a scan of a photocopy reduction and is missing some of the fine lines of the river but is otherwise not too bad.  If I can obtain a better quality scan from some of the old crew or if the 11x17 copy I have is of better quality I may re-scan it and post a better quality image later.

The Tower Dome of Osgiliath Great Hall First Floor Plan

The Tower Dome of Osgiliath also known as the Dome of Stars was built on the bridge of Osgiliath after Gondor was founded in the year 3320 of the Second Age.  It was built to house one of the larger Palantir which was placed in the domed chamber of the stars at the top of the tower.  During the fighting of the Kin Strife when Osgiliath was captured by the rebel leader Castamir, the Dome of Stars was destroyed and the Stone of Osgiliath was lost in the waters of the Anduin river.  The front view of the tower can also be seen on the cover of the module (painted by another artist) right before it is about to fall into the river.

The layout above was drawn using AutoCAD and represents the lower great hall level below the tower itself.  The tower is situated above the throne room between the two square towers at the south end of the great hall and is accessed from the second floor and the stairway leading up to the door from the terrace level below.  You can see the complex on the large scale map of Osgiliath drawn on the bridge on the upper middle right hand side of the map.

The next two maps were drawn in a similar manner to the Osgiliath Map above but I used the original color maps for both cities from previous modules (which were both complete) to trace the black and white images onto the translucent vellum.  The first city is the city of Umbar, also known as the Gray Haven and Home of the Corsairs.

City of Umbar Map

The next map is of the City of Minas Ithil with its spiraling plan layout not unlike the layout of Minas Tirith.

City of Minas Ithil Map

The next layout shows the small shanty town that was built up outside of one of the gates as often happened in fortified medieval towns after their was no real estate left within the walls to build on.

Minas Ithil Shanty Town

The next layout is of the Sea Lord's Tower which is in the middle of the City of Pelargir.  This was drawn with AutoCAD as well.

The Sea Lord's Tower in the City of Pelargir

The final layout in this series of illustrations is a plan layout of Margalad's manor house in one of the cities in the module.  I'll post a better description when I have had a chance to take a look in the module.  My assumption is that Margalad is one of the nobles embroiled in the intrigue and struggle of the Kin Strife civil war.

First and Second Floor Plans for Margalad's manor house

These more formal building plans gave me a chance to draw upon my architectural design and history background for inspiration and I came up with all of the vaults, niches and cool plan features shown outside of the basic layout of the building provided to me by the writers.

For a brief background and introduction on my time working for ICE as a freelancer go here:
Game Art and ICE Illustration Background

Copyright notice:  All original artwork on this page is displayed for self promotion purposes only and is copyrighted by the original artist, Daniel Cruger.  This artwork may be downloaded and used for personal use only and may not be reproduced for commercial purposes in any way without the express written consent of the owner.


  1. The Sea Lords' Tower is in the middle of Pelargir. :)

    As I have said before, I love your work. And I also understand why you love your drawing of Osgiliath so much.

  2. Cool, thanks for the compliments. I'll add the Sea Lord's tower bit to the description.

  3. This is great work!

    As a huge MERP fan, I'm delighted to discover this blog. :)

  4. I've still got the originals from the majority of the work including the CAD files so I'll be adding to this periodically.

  5. Dan, I thought that I would mention that I referred to this post and your MERP work over at my little blog:

    I posted the Osgiliath map as well. If you would like me to take it down, no worries.

  6. Love that Osgiliath map. Fantastic!

  7. Dan: I love your work. I never ventured much beyond D&D when it comes to gaming, so if it hadn't been for your posting them online, I don't know how I'd have come across your excellent maps and floor-plans. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Nice work! And a good blog too!

    BTW, I got here because of Akrasia's post :).

  9. Hello! I was one of the Kin-strife authors. I wonder if I can have your permission to use your Umbar map for an article I am currently writing for the Swedish gaming magazine Fenix ( Anders

  10. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  11. Came here following your links to the MERP drawings, but I'm enjoying the entire blog. Great stuff!

    I know the pain of losing a massive city map - my mother threw out my grandest years-in-the-making city map when I moved out for undergrad. Argh! :(