Black Hand Source Maps

Posted: 31 August 2011 in Reviews

These are some very cool, and cheap, fantasy map products.

Ancient Cities 1: 6 pages. A basic city, bisected by a river, surrounded by woods. There are four versions of the city map; colour numbered, colour not numbered, black and white not numbered, and one colour-coded to show districts.

Ancient Cities 2: 8 pages. A slaver’s city on a caravan route, surrounded by forest, with a river running through it. This differs from the first city in having more types of buildings, some locations outside the city walls, and a map of the sewers. I consider these improvements, so prefer number 2 to number 1. There is one version of the sewer map, and four versions of the city map – the same versions as for city 1.

The scale is ambiguous in both cases, so the GM can adjust it to suit, but looking at the size of things and the Dwarven Kingdom (which does have an explicit scale) I’d say the scale is in metres.

Dwarven Kingdom: 32 pages. A dwarven city in nine modules, including a traders’ quarter, living areas, the noble and military district, cemeteries, and of course mines. There are also a number of NPC illustrations, and a brief history of the city. You can use it either as a functioning dwarven settlement, or as a straightforward dungeon.

The Lone Tower: 11 pages. An isolated tower, with 9 levels, one of which is underground. There are three external views, one colour, one black and white, and one colour-coded to show levels; there are also maps of each level, at a scale of one square equals one metre – although you could use the ubiquitous 5′ to the square and it would still work. Some secret areas are marked, making it better suited as a GM’s map.


  • The cartography. It looks really good, and I appreciate the different versions of the city maps.
  • Numbered locations on some versions of the maps. Other cartographers take note, I prefer the choice of a numbered version or not – it’s a bonus for me if you provide both. That can be done either using layers in the PDF or by putting both versions in the file.

Didn’t Like

  • The cities feel a bit small. Using S John Ross’ guideline of 150 people per hectare, a ruler, and the scale printed on the maps, the two Ancient Cities would hold about 1,250 inhabitants each, and the Dwarven Kingdom about 4,700. I’d class them as towns, and the Ancient Cities not terribly big towns at that.
  • The tower maps have no numbers or other location keys.


Nice stuff, recommended. I’m tempted to replace my current maps of Irongrave and its dungeon with one of the Ancient Cities and the Dwarven Kingdom respectively, but the jury’s still out on that. For the city, I would need to mess around with either the scale of the map, or the population of Irongrave.


I recalculated the population and for some reason my arithmetic was wrong – the population for each city at 150 persons per hectare should be around 4,000. Better, but still not very big.

Links were requested, and here they are…

I see there is a new one too, the Pale Imp Tavern. I shall acquire it and review it shortly.
  1. Aaron Potts says:

    Links please!

  2. Hey Andy,

    Thanks for the tip – these are really nice maps. I picked up the 2 cities for a new S&W campaign I’m starting, and I’m going to use the Dwarven Kingdom as a megadungeon.

    Note to publishers: More “blank” maps like these that GMs can stock using their favourite system, please. Frightfully useful!

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