The second quadrant of level 1 of the Vaults has been mapped. A couple of days of staring cluelessly at gaming boards for things like chess, backgammon, nine mans morris, and the like finally resulted in a wholly tangential, mildly drunken two-hour mapping binge last night. Strangely enough, having "X-Men 2" blaring in the background is excellent mapping inspiration - the Alkali Lake base, the tunnels in the X-men Mansion, Nightcrawler in the disused church, even Cerebro: all good, stealable stuff.
(related, and semi-topical: no, I won't be bothering with the "Wolverine" movie. I know a Hicksian P.O.S when I see one)
Oddly, it seems that as I create more Vaults-specific creatures, locations, and iconography the process of mapping out sections and filling rooms with interesting, bizarre stuff becomes *much* easier. Sure, it's nice to be able to write "2d6 Goblins", or "20 rats", or "50% chance 1d6 Orc slavers" and just forget about it. But scratching down "2d6 Tologs", or "1 Rook Seer and entourage", or "1d3 Mrotas" has me actively thinking about what has attracted these weird creatures so close to the surface (and, in some cases, has me making a note to work out what the heck these beasties actually are before the PCs bump into them!) That in turn leads to further embellishments to the area they'll be encountered in.
The art of Keith Thompson, Ursula Vernon (particularly her Gearworld, Bestiary and Oddities galleries. The winged phalloi? Not so much) and Wayne Barlowe's (Inferno and its' companion piece "Brushfire: Illuminations from the Inferno") have been a great help in tapping into this self-perpetuating cornucopia of bizarre imagery and situational complications. The almost Boschian baroque aspects of their art are top notch inspiration when it comes to adding fun replacements to the usual suspects of the monster menagerie. Of course, having Barlowe's "God's Demon" and the Weta Workshop "Natural History of Skull Island" as my current bedtime reading helps a lot too.
"Dark have been my dreams of late." - King Theoden, LOTR:TT
If he'd been a gamer the next thought would have been:
"I'd better make notes while I still remember the details."
So, yeah. Mapping begets gribblies, which beget tricks, traps and setting colour, which in turn begets a lot of erasing, swearing and more mapping. I just can't wait to throw my group into this, and (inevitably) watch them ride heedless and roughshod over my carefully considered setting details in search of gold, glory and sweet lewts. The little tinkers.
Thanks to Amityville Mike for pointing me in the direction of Dungeoncrafter v1.4, and to Harmyn at the Dragonsfoot forums for his excellent TSR Classic Blue tile set. It looks like I might be able to include actually legible to human beings maps in with my one page dungeon sections.
edit: semi-related, subterranean fun in Rome (the Domus Aurea, and the stacked Basilicae of San Clemente).