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Nearly finished map
twitch sigil
I'm almost finished the map I was working on using this tutorial. It still needs a compass rose, title banner, nice border, and other finishing touches like that, but the natural and societal geography is done. For some reason, when I export to PNG it gets a shade darker than what I see in the Gimp, which is minor but annoying.

Click to embiggen

I still need to name this region, though. It's a region of independent towns and cities scattered across wilderness, sandwiched between a fallen empire to the south and the endless* plains to the north, and the high mountains to the east and... something to the west. Maybe something involving a lot of water, or perhaps giant bees.

Any suggestions for a name?

* Not really endless, but I forget the name of the tribal elven country on the far side that sturdy_manakin came up with.

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Keeps looking better and better. :)

If the region had any connection to the old empire (what rose in its stead, by the way?) then it is not unlikely that its name is something to do with its position within that realm. Something like Outreach, Northwood, Plainswatch, Last Exit Before Toll and so forth.

The empire to the south just fractured into a mash of city-states and freeholdings (kind of like the mapped area already was). It's still called the Elman Empire for lack of any better name, and for the wishful thinking of some imperial loyalists who are still trying to put a new emperor on the throne. Those who are going for a power grab keep calling it that name because it distracts everyone else from the reality of the political situation.

The mapped area was an outlying region that was de jure independent of the empire but was tightly within its orbit. It's tried to continue on with business as usual, but the imperial collapse meant the end of the overland caravan trade to Foreignlandsia across the plains, so times are hard.

Plainsedge, Northwood... those sound good. :)

Could be fun if the title of emperor still existed, but changed into something more akin to the Holy Roman Emperor -- you already have sort of a comparable situation, with the fractured small states dotted over the map.

A position that all leaders must de iure bow to but which is for the most part de facto powerless is always a fun source of political intrigue and so forth.

That's an interesting idea! Having someone crowned but have everyone kinda ignore the Imperial Crown for practical purposes would make for an interesting playground. I like it.

Better still: the Imperial Crown is itinerant, and there is no capital. The emperor must travel between the manifold imperial domains dotted throughout the realm, so the imperial court focuses on one part of the empire at a time. Sort of like the Eye of Sauron, but slower. And less evil.

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Funnily enough, I though the southern shore of the lake near Treebend was artificial, ie protected by dikes. It struck me as having been carved from the marsh- or swampland surrounding the lake through sheer pigheadedness and engineering ingenuity. Would give the residents a very intresting character, too -- when it comes to aquatic engineering, they're the heirs of the old empire, and damn proud of it to boot.

That's something I hadn't considered. When I drew in the lake I had the vague idea that it "belled" out in the south for some reason and then was channeled back into the river, but I had't thought too much about it.

I do know I want something interesting—like a power windmill or something—where the road crosses the river south of the lake. That would fit well with an old engineering project, and would justify dikes to raise the water. Maybe a dam with a road over it?

In a previous setting I made, I'd created a town influence by a significant population of engineers, and I really liked that place. Something with a similar character for Treebend would be fun, and better than the default "sleepy farming community", like Sandell.

Sandell should maybe have an even smaller dot. It really is little more than a market town...

A market town directly connected to the dwarven stronghold/entry to the mountaincities. ;) Not quite so small. Or small, but with significant dwarven influences.

Point! It's already appeared in earlier play, but perhaps I can retconn that a bit...

The Iron River flows from the Iron Teeth westward, toward Cantos. Originally I had just drawn some sweeping lines on graph paper, so I hadn't given it much more thought than "this blue pencil crayon goes that way!"

I was thinking, when I drew it, that the river split and the forks continued west and south, respectively. Obviously, I am not very geographically astute! I should decide on something more plausible, or maybe throw magic at it for a fantastical solution.

I do like the idea of the east flow and the west flow meeting and heading south into the lake, with an insane maelstrom or a waterfall where they meet. It would certainly provide a point of interest near Cantos, and might explain why there is an old (as-yet unnamed) run overlooking the confluence.

The alternative, that the river flows into the mountains, sounds like a really neat idea. It doesn't work for how I've described the foothills and mountains though (they're very like our local bumps), but I think I can use that elsewhere, outside this local area.

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OOooo. Spring flooding actually sounds like a lot of fun. It would account for the vast wetland east of Cantos—perhaps it's a mangrove swamp—and for the wide swath of clear land around the river where it enters the Great Forest.

Gorgeous. Maybe a scale bar?

I would question the flow directions of the rivers also. Obviously the water flows westward from the mountains, but it isn't clear if the water from the lake flows north toward Cantos, then westward or to the south.

Scale bar! Yes, that's the other thing I still need to add. All of the non-representational cartographic features are still to be done.

I haven't considered how to indicate water flow without using obtrusive arrows. Do you have any suggestions that suit the style of map? I was just going to leave it to associated written materials about the area, but clearly the map isn't as unambiguous as it looks like to the creator. :)

Edited at 2008-08-13 07:31 pm (UTC)

A nice effect would be a thin river coming out of the mountains and gradually getting thicker on the plains. This is also a pretty good representation of how most rivers work, unless they get channels in gorges.

Actually, a river-cut gorge/canyon might be a nice feature to have. It sets up areas where you might have caves and rapids and falls.

The original idea was to gradually thicken the river as it flowed, but in practice I found that difficult to achieve cleanly. Since it's more intended as a pretty map than a satellite-like map, the error in representation of river width is within spec. If I can get better with my tablet, I will experiment with that effect on later maps, though...

A canyon or gorge might be a great location. I'm not sure where I'd put it... and being fantasy, I'm not too worried about it being entirely correct geologically. For flexibility, though, I'd hesitate to pin such a feature down on the map. This setting is still sketchy and in flux (most of the actually-decided details are entirely depicted by this map), so I don't want to put too much in stone.

It does seem that the map is serving its purpose though: to fire the imagination and spur development of setting ideas. :D Already my players have decided that the Forsaken Temple is a good place to go, just based on the name. Given their characters and their goals, I know what's there now...

Hi Me again. I happened to come across an area in GoogleEarth that shows the effect you might want for your rivers. Check out 4.583333N, 8.600000E, a region called the Bakassi Peninsula on the border between Nigeria and Cameroon. It is a mangrove swamp, but it nicely shows the effect.

This link should get you there, but you will want to zoom out a bit.


I've yet to install GoogleEarth, mostly for lack of time to learn and play with a new toy. I'll check this out when I do get to it, though. Thanks.

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