The Map Mine: Alchemist's Laboratory

The Map Mine: Alchemist's Laboratory
Every Wednesday Alex will walk through a map he's created and discuss some of the design choices behind it.
Example Laboratory

Welcome to the 3rd episode (edition? post?) of the Map Mine. Today we'll be having a look at an example Alchemist/Necromancer's laboratory.

It occurred to me as I was setting up this post that I haven't yet talked about my methodology for creating maps. First, I start by stubbing out the layout in Dungeon Scrawl using the white map preset. I then tune down the shadows from the walls, adjusting those down just to make them a little less pronounced so that when I place items on the map the shadows don't get in the way of the top-down items and it's not visually jarring.

After that, I start adding items in a new layer in Affinity Designer:

This allows me to lay out the icons pretty much wherever I want on the map and can adjust the item sizes as necessary. I also get a lot of flexibility with how the objects are layered and can use those to combine some of the icons from the pack into different combinations.

It's worth noting that the OSRaon icon pack can be imported directly into Dungeon Scrawl. Check out this helpdesk article to learn how.

Starting with a Theme

The idea I wanted to go for with this map is essentially "Necromancer Alchemist" - someone who is conducting experiments on bodies. To do this, they'd need a few different spaces (at least in the medieval fantasy iteration of this idea): A primary workspace, with alchemical reagents and items for mixing chemicals; a cold storage room for the bodies; and a storage room to keep bulk items out of the way. Obviously, there'd also need to be an entryway - I figure the occupant of the lab is a fairly practical individual, so for this map I've gone with a simple hallway (represented by the southmost room on the map).

The Main Room

The most visually interesting of the rooms is the main room - the place where the Alchemist does most of their work. The most prominent feature is a plain slab in the center, where the Alchemist is currently working on an admixture - but also a place that's large enough to haul a body up on top of if necessary. To make that, I just used a simple rectangle and then piled several miscellaneous items from the icon pack - a scroll for taking notes (via the inkwell nearby), and several laboratory-adjacent items that are coming in the next update.

The rest of the room is clean, but cluttered - this Alchemist is in the middle of research: open books, scattered papers, a cluttered desk. In this respect, the design goal is very similar in scope to the first post in the series, where we want to achieve a "lived in" feeling.

You might have noticed that the southeast portion of this room is fairly light on objects - this is because I wanted to ensure there was enough space to drag a body from the east room all the way to the slab in the middle, and so you need a clear path from that doorway to the center. There are a few small footlockers in that corner of the room just to fill it out visually, wherein you can store more supplies for the body room.

The Storage Closet

There's really nothing interesting in this room, design-wise. It's storing barrels, a crate, and an accent shelf.

The one feature I did want to call out was the use of a wardrobe to double as an alchemical supply cabinet. That item doubles fairly well as "any tall cabinetry with two doors".

Cold Storage

Perhaps unsurprisingly, this is my favorite room on the laboratory map - cold storage. This is where the Alchemist (slash Necromancer) keeps their experimental bodies to test alchemical concoctions against. The first thing you might notice is another new icon to the pack, a wrapped corpse. I modeled the shape after many common horror tropes, an enshrouded body with a cord wrapped around it to keep the shroud in place.

If you've ever been to Seattle, MoPOP has a horror exhibit called "Scared to Death" that celebrates horror films and it has quite the hanging body collection (pictured below).

This Alchemist has a ...modest... supply of fresh material, somewhat intentionally. We could pile them up in a pyramid, but I felt like that would make the map more difficult to read and interpret at the size that it'd likely be printed. Instead I opted to spread out the bodies and keep the number smaller for the sake of clarity.

The other item I decided to place in there was a tub. I think the Alchemist/Necromancer either needs to prepare the bodies (by washing them before doing examinations) .... or perhaps the bodies need to soak in the alchemical concotion for a while.

Now, if you're going to be getting messy with corpses in your cold room, it only makes sense that you need somewhere to wash your hands. The design is somewhat anachronistic, but it's difficult to convey "wash basin" with a more traditional map (though I'm definitely going to give it a shot with the new pitcher icon).


I hope you enjoyed this installment of The Map Mine. Next week we'll be on hiatus as I'll be taking a much needed break. Ten Candles summaries will be posted on schedule.

As always, if you like this series and would like to use the icon set in your own maps, it's available here on