Illustrating the world of ‘Ethersea’

The Adventure Zone was the podcast that first got me into the weird and wonderful world of Dungeons & Dragons, and helped spark an interest in illustrating the worlds and scenes from shows that would eventually lead me to things like creating the world map for Bahumia.

Initially started in 2014 as a spin off to their comedy advice podcast My Brother, My Brother and Me, The Adventure Zone is essentially a family game of Dungeons & Dragons, starring the three McElroy brothers and their father clint. They were one of the very first popular D&D podcasts and their first campaign, Balance, is widely regarded as having helped popularise the concept of tabletop roleplay podcasts.

In 2019 I drew ‘Kelper‘, the setting of their then-current campaign, Amnesty (the McElroys actually later got in contact and asked if they could sell the artwork on a T-shirt!) as I’ve always been a sucker for worldbuilding and locations. For their newest campaign Ethersea, which launched his year, the initial set up episodes were specifically worldbuilding focused, and as a result I couldn’t resist trying to illustrate them!

Ethersea Prologue Maps Episode 1/2 - Imgur

The concept for the first few episodes of Ethersea is that while the main campaign takes place under the sea after a magical appolcapyse makes the surface world uninhabitable, the set up epsidoes are like a ‘prequel’ series that establishes how the underwater city and community was actually created.

Obviously, it makes a lot more sense if you listen to the prologue, but if you imagine each episode establishes new situations and developments as the city is built. Along with prompts from the Dungeon Master (Griffin Mcelroy), the whole group also contribute ideas, locations and scenarios which gives the whole setting a very collaborative and unique feel compared to past campaigns. Eventually the community build the technology they need and start developing their underwater city as the magical apocalypse approaches.

The final of the setup episodes ultimately brings the catastophe that mades the surface uninhabitable, and the new community move under the sea to the beginings of their new home. The final narration then flashes forward 25 years and establishes the wonderful underwater city of ‘Founder’s Wake’

I had so much fun creating this and trying to adapt the descriptions and ideas that the McElroys had put forward. I can’t wait to see the final outcome!

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