I make no apologies for my fondness for the old school. I mean, who among us doesn’t feel nostalgic anytime they see something from their childhood? My elementary school memories are mostly filled with playing Nintendo with my brothers and other kids in our neighborhood. Even when the neighborhood (or just the neighborhood kids) changed, Nintendo was a constant. Of course, I played fan favorites like Mario, Mega Man, and Castlevania. But I played some other rarer titles like RoboWarrior and Marble Madness too. So why am I bringing this up on a tabletop gaming blog? Well, it’s because that last title reminds me of the “Lair of the Warlock” by Sire Lyre.
Marble Madness was probably my first experience with isometric maps. It’s just that I didn’t have a word to describe those sorts of maps back in 1980-something. But, here I am about 30 years later talking about them still. When I discovered Christopher Smith’s (aka Sire Lyre’s) work on Instagram I was immediately impressed. He’s got a distinctive art style that is simultaneously simple and…deep. His characterizations are uncomplicated but if ever a picture was worth a thousand words, it’s one of his. Sort of like a card from Dixit. But let’s not dwell on that. Let’s talk about the maps.
Lair of the Warlock
About two-thirds of Sire Lyre’s Instagram feed is isometric maps. He invites us into his world with the Bloodbark Forest and Therin Liadon’s retreat (if they travelers are worthy). He recounts stories of one Chief Norickle Gimbalwhistle hiring some gnomes to destroy a dragon. His brief stories are as colorful as his maps.
I happened to share one of his posts in a weekly initiative I co-founded called #Story (I pronounce it “d6 Story”…others may call it by another name). That’s what started a conversation between the two of us a couple of months ago. I quickly came to realize that Sire Lyre is multi-talented. Not only does he draw these maps with clever stories to accompany them, he also writes and records his own music to go with some of them as well. As a matter of fact, Lair of the Warlock is a complete package!
What is Lair of the Warlock?
It’s a pretty map. But it’s more than that. It’s actually a small adventure with the map I’ve shared above, an encounter legend for the DM to use, a blank monster stat sheet, and 9 music files. As a player, you enter into a warlock’s lair and immediately face a puzzle: how to get deeper into the lair. There are four candelabra and four wax candles candles at the entrance. It is up to you to solve the riddle of where to place them to gain access to the rest of the lair.
Within the lair you will find things like marvelous pigments, an alchemy jug, and a mummified gnome. Not necessarily your standard dungeon fare but this is no standard dungeon.
The blank monster stat sheet is for the DM to adjust the difficulty of this adventure as he or she sees fit and the music is for ambiance. And I’ll be damned if some of those sound files don’t remind me of Zelda!
Where Can You Find This Warlock’s Lair?
Strap on your adventurer’s pack and follow me. The lair is just over the very next hill!
Sire Lyre has done something incredibly generous for NZS Games’ readers. He is giving away the “Lair of the Warlock” FOR FREE! No. I’m not joking. No. There is no catch. No. You don’t have to sign up for anything or even enter your email address. This is a no strings attached freebie that you can have! The entire package is available via Google Drive at the link below (beware, these are big files with the largest being over 160 MB so they could take a little bit to download. You will find a total of 13 files available at the link.
Click the Image or the Link Below It
Thanks for asking! Yes, as a matter of fact there is! Check back in soon where I’ll share another piece by Sire Lyre. It is minimalist Dungeons & Dragons at its finest. It involves a 2-dimensional map AND an isometric map this time.