The Joy of Coloring a Map with Beak, Feather, and Bone
Learn about an interesting way to use a hand-colored map to bring characters to life with Beak, Feather, and Bone.
My goodness! Ages upon ages ago, I started talking about playing some solo tabletop roleplaying games. I even had a great process in place for creating a town with Beak, Feather, and Bone to be used with Ryuutama. Recently, it’s been bothering me that I had only the very first steps completed. Time to dive further into this idea of map-making!
The Very First Attempt
Remember this old map? This was where I left off when I explained my original process for character creation.
Although far from a bad start, the digital process started to get to me. Filling in areas with a paint bucket felt kind of sterile, and got away from the core concepts.
Every map featured here comes from Watabou’s Village Generator. This is an older version and I was excited to see all of the changes from the last time I used it!
So although I had some good ideas here, the idea of digital map-making was scrapped for something more natural…
Outside the Box
The sub-title of “a map-labeling RPG” might sound a little unusual. Labeling a map… What could that do? Yet the concept is quite interesting with new characters.
I could have jumped into this world and started exploring. Call me silly, but I wanted my traveling party to have backstories. Interests. Flaws. Personalities and depth!
This path gave me the ability to start with a blank map and tie each character to specific buildings as the town grew.
It’s fantastic to see this happen! A group might make even better use of the concepts, yet I was happy to solo it all.
Tools of the Trade
Time for some hand-coloring! These tools served me well to bring the town to life. Rory’s Story Cubes provided the ideas for every building. Just 3 dice made it all happen.
My trusty color pencils and markers brought the colors to life, while my fancy playing cards determined the type and value of each building. More on that at a later time!
I can’t properly describe the sheer joy of seeing this all come together. Every decision brought out so much flavor.
And let me just say that I’m no artist! This was easy to color with no need to be absolutely perfect. My own map!
From Day to Night
If my hand-colored map wasn’t going to cut it, though, I had the simple task of saving a few other versions of the town. This map is scrollable: Just click on the arrows!
Small differences exist, typically in the placement of some doorways. Overall, though, you can see how the plain version transforms to day and then night. So awesome!
These are basically default presets that are available. I don’t know if they’re useful… But I do love my maps.
If it was possible to do something digitally like this, I still think I would want to go the hand-colored route. Fun!
The Traveling Party
This group portrait has never left my mind for long and I fondly remember starting the character creation process.
My oddest coincidence happened when I started reading Red Rising in anticipation of the upcoming board game. The idea of hair color and type isn’t so unique. Ha!
Still, the concept of having each character focus on a single color makes things easier, particularly for marking up a map. I had the right color pencils and markers, too.
From the top left and going clockwise, meet (or re-meet) Tsurume, Kageharu, Motokore, Akai, Nakaari, and Ishi!
Shaping the Town
Up close, it should be a little clearer that every building is tied to a single character. This doesn’t mean others aren’t linked, but it has a special significance for that character.
Take Green 2. Just a building tied to Motokore. Ah, but this is known as Trinkets to Treasures, a recycling center. It stretches deep underground and transforms anything.
Constant new ideas and inventions help address concerns so that colorful, scented smoke is the main byproduct.
Why is it important to Motokore? That’s all left up to interpretation, though it serves as a starting story seed!
Nestled in the Woods
Take another example: Blue 1 is tied to Ishi, the minstrel. She also has a strong interest in science, though. Follow the winding path to Yamanoi’s Library!
It’s just another standard building… You know. The type where magic and science mix to create all sorts of odd experiments and explosions at any point.
With no governing body at the moment, magic-users have been teaching each other rather dangerous concoctions.
Getting lost in the constantly shifting rooms is not unheard of. Perhaps that’s what befell Ishi long ago.
Looking to Ryuutama
This map may look complete, but I still have some more buildings to label and design. Each features its own rather lengthy description. I absolutely love the process!
Another aspect is the rivals, who keep popping up every now and then. This happens when a face card comes up for determining the building type. Even more intriguing!
In fact, Kageharu is hilariously annoying to all. His house is ruining his neighbor’s, and the family shop is awful.
So many possibilities! This group will be leaving the town, though I may use the setting for more… It’s so excellent!
Continue the Conversation
Have you ever used another tabletop RPG or tool to improve something else? Ryuutama certainly works on its own and doesn’t suffer from poor character creation. This is just my way of trying something very different! Have you ever made a map with Beak, Feather, and Bone? I’m impressed with the simple rules that develop an entire town. Simply great!