Thursday, November 22, 2012

Maps & Mapping

Periodically I redo my campaign map.  I'm never 100% satisfied with it, and I like to tweak it to reflect things I've discovered every few years.  These "discoveries" are usually things within the Shadowend itself that either are or aren't working for me.  The last iteration of the map, done back in 2007, featured a lot of little kinglets and principalities around the Greenwater.  Some of these work for me, some don't.  Dore, which is a rather significant part of that map, didn't exist in previous versions.  Dore definitely works.  Utgard, on the other hand, works, but does not work well.

If you haven't seen the map, click here.

One of the "meta-mapping" strategies I used was dividing the map into four quadrants - The Near North, Utgard, the Woodmarches, and the Hundred Kingdoms.  This gives me different zones of culture, society, and adventure-type.  I'm satisfied with that, but the exact nature of the zones hasn't gelled quite right.

So, eventually there will be a new map.  The biggest change will be in Utgard, which will flip from the eastern (right) side to the western (left).  The water will push towards the center of the map, particularly in the north. Dwarves and giants will be the powers there, with isolated settlements, wild forests, and many small hill and mountain outcroppings.  Gaidrilar will be the only significant human city in the region.  The feeling here is perpetual, untamed wilderness, with Scandinavian/Slavic flavor.

The Near North will remain much the same, except further east. I may try to open it up a little and give it more of an "open plains" feel, but it's a tricky balance.  I want to establish a clear wild border between Dore and Larenyss that can spawn real threats to the two realms, but still leave routes of travel between them.  Kaulderzhun and Coldstone will probably remain in the Near North, though there's a good argument for moving Coldstone with Utgard.  This is your "bastion against the orcish hordes" and "the last kingdom of the High Race of Man".  I will probably tweak Keldru and Kameurgard - possibly eliminating (for now) the former and making the latter more "viking" (more fjords!).

Larenyss is going to shift to a stronger north-south orientation and encompass the Greenwater Vale, making it the real core of the region.  Asavar is going to go away again, Guanes will revert to a barony or somesuch, ditto Kestrellar and probably Shalaen (which might just go away).  Roen's status is uncertain.  Arramor will remain as a foil to Larenyss.  The Grey Hills and Dwarfmoor will shrink - they take up just too damned much space right now.  The Glimmering/Glittering/Shimmering Plain is very much staying.  Ditto Everglass, which I've perpetually put off detailing out of fear of screwing it up.  Most of my campaigns have centered here, so there are more fiddly little bits to consider.  The conflict between the fey Queen Aliana and her successors is unresolved, and that needs to be reflected in the political landscape.  This is very much the area of the feudal Middle Ages and  fairy tales.

The Hundred Kingdoms is probably the biggest unresolved point.  It's meant to be a squabbling place of tiny, tiny little independent principalities, but it's not really exciting me at the moment.  It's also the link to the "outer world" and sees itself as the bastion of civilization, whatever that means, but civilization is not all that enthralling to me.  There is also a strong possibility that the "greater" civilization has pretty much fallen completely apart (whatever a post-apocalyptic medieval fantasy world looks like, that could be it), leaving the Hundred Kingdoms really and truly as one of the bastions of civilization.  This might partially be a matter of scale - one of the things I want in a new map is smaller mountains, and that would give me more delicacy in political boundaries.


  1. Sounds good, though I've never actually seen the map! (Feel my pain.) :(

    I'm a "city state" guy in my home game as well, with only a very few "larger" kingdoms to be found.

    Two of my city states might agree to regularly patrol a single road linking them, due to the outcry of the merchants. ;)

    But anything and everything can and does happen in between.



      This is the 2007 map.

    2. That page has, of course, now been "Bookmarked!"


      What program did you use to create that excellent piece of work?