Making Maps for RPG’s, Part 1

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Part one in my series or articles about Maps and Role Playing Games. This first part is a bit about me and my view of role-playing, the games themselves and what they are made of, I hope you find it interesting.

Making maps for RPG’s Part 1

 

The new map Legend, first draft

All maps have to have a proper legend and fantasy maps are no exception, especially not those claiming to be good. The reason I haven’t followed my own advice is that I wanted to be fairly sure I had worked out how I wanted my maps all symbols borders to look before spending time making a Legend that would become obsolete the next map update. Even map makers can be lazy at times 😉

Legend new

Now when the new version of the map has progressed far enough for me to be sure I have found the look I want, its time to start working on the legend. It is a 3 page PDF file in is initial form but will probably grow a page or two in its final form. The goal is for me to use the Legend as a guide that explains and guides you through my Flaness map as well as just lists the symbols and lines. There are a lot of small quirks and designs that have a story in themselves that needs explanation, and I will try and go over the different terrain types and what they stands for those of you who wants to dig deeper into the geography of the Flaness. This layout is far from finished, so far just a simple background. But I will add that when I have got the text and other content done right.

For easy reference during games I will make a single page summary. I will also make a special tool for distance calculation and measurements. My plan is for you to be able to print it and laminate it and you will have a custom made measure stick.

The Legend can be downloaded here: Legend 130310_2r

Making Fantasy Maps

When you spend as much time with Role Playing Games as I do trying to map an entire gaming world, you have a lot of time to wonder about what you’re doing and why and also how to make it better. I’ve often been asked about how I go about creating my maps, and like all artists I love to receive attention for what I’m doing. When you’re making maps of places that only exists in books that only gamers will ever read, even finding a person who understand what you’re doing are something to treasure.

Usually I give a short technical explanation to how I go about creating my maps, you use computer program so and so for that effect and then the next application to achieve this effect. I have often given these snippet form of ordered guides and even made a few into tutorials, and I have read and viewed hundreds during the decades I’ve been trying to become a Fantasy Map Maker. Ironically now after many frustrating, hard, stubborn, determined but also fun rewarding and empowering years I can really understand and make good use of all these advice.

What I wanted all those years ago was a book that could guide me through the process of create the fantastic maps I envisioned. I realize now that what I envisioned are the hard part, like being a gardener you need the desire to grow things as well as a tool shed. So in a series of articles I’m going to try and give my view on how to make fantasy maps for role playing games. My intention is to try and release the parts every two months. Hopefully I will receive feedback and criticism of what I have written, so I will go through all of it and write a conclusion taking as much as possible of what you said into account and give my thoughts on it.

If there are enough interest I will go over the articles and conclusions edit and rewrite and add content and make it into a book about Map making for Fantasy RPG’s

These are the parts I intend to cover:

Introduction (this part)

 Part 1 – Anatomy of Role Playing Games
My view on what a Role Playing Game is and my view on their history and future….

Part 2 – The Role of Maps
A journey through the archives of Fantasy maps for role playing…..

Part 3 – Surveying a Fantasy World
How to build an image in your mind and make it work….

Part 4 – The Making of a Fantasy Map
Arm yourself and be ready to chisel out that masterpiece…..

Part 5 – Conclusion
So did all this make any sense…

It will will be a journey from the basic parts of role playing itself, to continue with the role of maps and the thinking behind them. Then I will try and take you on a journey through the art of surveying a fantasy world and finally to the actual making of a map and its tools.

I hope you want to come with me on the quest to make Fantasy maps.

The land of Tjalf

a screen shot of the Lands of Tjalf (formerly known as Geoff). This area is very interesting and has a lot of documentation. It is from my perspective as a mapmaker highly interesting. It is simply by its surroundings a place full of features, which is the reason I have both dreamt of and dreaded to map it.

Tjalf1

That is the reason i have avoided the Sheldomar Valley and all its land for a very long time. But now I feel very confident in my abilities and I’m starting to be really pleased with the result. It is far from done, and I’m in the second stage where I have done one big revision and a few smaller to the terrain. I have started to place known objects and names to see if things hold up to further scrutiny.

 

I’m very pleased that WotC in the Dragon article by Clausio Pozas gave Hochoch a city heraldic sign. It is interesting since it is a thre part just like the old Idee shield. It also shares both the bottom water/waves part, though the ships are gone. But also the Darmen green found in so many of the Aerdy symbols. Then its a golden Griffon on black. I wonder what is behind the design?

Rel Deven Campaign map, again…

 

It takes time to get things right when you do a lot of things, and fantasy maps are no exception. This map for the Greyhawk campaign I run are where I try and work out the style and layout I want my Flanaess mapping project will have when its finished. Besides all that my goal with the campaign map is to add a bit of a “fog of war” feeling emphasizing the area explored by the players, and still give them inspiration and basic orientation of the world around them, names, big features and other things the characters have heard or read about.

Flanaess Full Map130220

Missing on this map are a mini-map showing what part of the Flanaess this map covers. A proper logo showing that I’m the person that made the map and more details of when it was made and what version of my map-data was used and some other trivia like where you can find the legend do help you interpret the map.

Speaking of logos, on this map I have included the official Greyhawk and Pathfinder logos, which I normally don’t. This is as stated a map of my homebrew campaign set in the world of Greyhawk using the Pathfinder RPG rules. I’m not a lawyer but I assume that I can do that on a map that I have created to be used by me and my players to make better use of all the books and modules we have bought from Wizards of the coast and Paizo. I write this not to start a debate but  only to humbly explain my intent.

Next week I will hopefully publish a first version of my legend so you can interpret my new maps better.

 

 

Another perspective on the Flanaess

 

I often get asked if I’m really working in 3D which is understandable to ask since all I ever show are the top down maps. So I thought it was time to show off my work in a different way, this time from a vantage point many miles above the central Flanaess looking in various directions across the sub-continent. The quality isn’t much to brag about and Bryce shows its limitations and age in these renderings but it shows the topography I have created and is working with to do my maps.

Here comes a first picture showing Bissel and Veluna leading up to the gap of Thornward with the Yatils and Ket in the background. The misfit pieces of mountains and other wierd bits of terrain in the background are various experiments I have saved for reference to try out algorithms to see what they result in.
3D render3

 

Here is the central Sheldomar Valley seen from the east with Rushmoors, Grand March, Bissel in the foreground. Geoff are seen against the Barrier Peaks and far off to the right are Ekbir and Tusmit. I have to exaggerate the height of the mountains to make them stand out in top down renders. You can see why when you fly at a high altitude, all mountains look almost flat. So they are a bit off scale.

3D render4

 

 

Wholly Bay and the Wild Coast seen from north east with Welkwood, Fuss forest framing the low Southern Lortmils. In the foreground you have the Bright Desert Coast
3D render5

The southern shores of the Nyr Dyv and in the background Relmor Bay and sea of Gearnat. The Urnst countries and the mighty Celadon and the Abbor-Alz making up the center.

3D render6

Eastern part of the Empire of Iuz with Bandit Kingdoms in the foreground with Rift Canyon  leading off to the Rakers and Griff mountains with the Pale lands just in front. Way off in the distance you see Teeth of Vatun.

3D render7

The lands of Iuz and northern Whystil Lake in fron of the large expanses of cold flat lands of the Barren plains. Fellreev Forest lay as a divide between the open expanes of the north and the bandit lands south of it.

3D render8

Vesve and the Clatspurs and to the left the Yatils frame the Kershane Pass leading off to Lake Quag and Perrenland. In the distance the nomad steppes and the bitterly cold Burneal Forest. The Black Ice behind it was a bit too much for Bryce to make black so I had to resort to magic afterwards for make that come true.

3D render9

This ends the virtual tour of the Flanaess for this time. But sometime in the future with better tools I’ll be able to achieve a much better result.

Rel Deven Campaign map, new style

Flanaess Full Map130220

I’m running a campaign set in Rel Deven and its surroundings in CY598. Here is the latest version of our campaign map. It has some features added that are not canon. I’ve added some towns, villages and other settlements, and also added more heraldry. The colored area are the parts the characters have explored, and the colored heraldry are the ones encountered or known to the party.

We use the Pathfinder rules with a few Greyhawk adaptations, like deities.

Bissel map

Flanaess Full Map130220

 

Time for the second of my series of preview maps. This time its Bissel with all its Baronies as it stood after the repelling of the Ketite invasion and everything else that happened during the Greyhawk wars.

My preview maps are both a teaser for the final Flanaess map and a way for all you Greyhawk fans to help me find as many errors as possible before anything is printed.

I’m moving south and west now to work on Gran March and what is left of Geoff and then the Valley of the Mage.

Veluna map

As a first in a series of Realm  maps that I release, mainly to try and weed out as many errors as possible on the final map.

First out is Veluna with corrected hills and mountains.

Flanaess Full Map130220

Realm Works Kickstarter

I’m trying to keep this site free from annoying banners and ads, but here is something I want to promote and urge you to consider.  A tool like Realm Works is something I have wished to have since I started to run games. My intention is to make Greyhawk maps for the Realm Works public repository.

Realm Works Kickstarter 

Realm Works Home Page