Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Some thougths about rpg world mapping

As I'm world-building, using material from all campaigns and modules I masterised from the last 27 years, I had a look on a few classical world maps to try to catch what's the spirit of a good world map. Here are 5 of them, but I could add more based on the same principles : Blackmoor, Wilderlands, Greyhawk, Known World and Forgotten realms. 


The first feature which strikes me is that none of them is a full world map. Borders are mostly lands, not sea, as an invitation to go further. Unfinished maps for unfinished tales. What's south of Blackmoor ? What's West of the Wilderlands ? The DM's imagination... 


I guess this feature comes from earlier fantasy litterature. Middle-earth, Hyboria, Newhon or Young Kingdoms map are  based on the same principles. 


I remember my first attempts of world buildings as a young DM. As far as I can rememebr, I nver played in tose big continental maps I drew, while I can distinctively remember I used smaller, unfinished ones, as seetings for my games. maybe i'll post some of them here soon or less.


Another striking feature, of which Blackmoor is the best - and earlier - example is the idea of the Great bay: sea goes faraway in the lands, like a Mediteranea. In these five maps, only Known World escape this feature. All have a big surface of seas. 


The 'Great bay' feature had a significant impact in my longer D&D campaign, with the CM1 'test of the warlords' Norwold's Great bay aera. This module's map share's clearly tehse two features: it's organised around a great bay, with land on two borders of the maps.


So... my current world-building work-in-progress has still no map, even if the picture is growing in my head. Now, I think I found two clues about how organize it for a mysterious, successful map. 

42 comments:

Phersv said...

I really like the effect of the compilation!

Jeff Rients did a few posts on the relative scale of the maps last July : Real World, Flanaess & Wilderlands, changing the size of the Wilderlands like Rob Conley's Majestic Wilderlands, adding Minaria and the Known World of Mystara.

I had never realized the whole Wilderlands were supposed to be roughly the same size as the Pomarj peninsula! That would be really small.

Håvard Faanes did many different maps of the Blackmoor world, such as this integration of Blackmoor and the Wilderlands.

Anonymous said...

And if you ever want me to map it let me know. you can message me at reddeerrun@hotmail.com

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