Showing posts from April, 2016

Fantasy Map Review V: Birthright

For links to all instalments in this series,  go here . For the fifth instalment, we come to Cerilia of the Birthright setting. And I move from admiration to love. First Impressions:  I first became aware of birthright when the  Birthright Conspectus  was included in one of the boxed sets I bought at the time, which included the fullsized map above. It was, simply put, love at first sight. I adored the the woodlands, the mountains, the colour scheme and the stapled borders  - It seemed like a world truly alive. More than anything, it was the map that made me want to know more about this setting. Further Thoughts: This is is still one of my favourite maps, maybe my alltime favourite. Although the scale of Cerilia is clearly more localised than Faerun or even the Flanaess , the sense of there being plenty of opportunity for exploration and adventure is developed with stunning level of detail instead - Where the Forgotten Realms gives a sense of never running out of new land

Fantasy Map Review IV: Forgotten Realms

For links to all instalments in this series,  go here . For the fourth instalment is yet another iconic map piece - Faerun. I've gone for the 3rd edition one as that is probably the most widespread one out there and also (imo), the best. Ed greenwood does a lot of the same things right as Gygax did with his Flanaess map. He understands that placement of seas as separators; points that cultures congregate around; and routes that open up and connects different adventuring areas really makes a difference to a good map. He nails it with the Sea of Fallen Stars and the multitude of bays, lakes and reaches that feed into it. One boat can set sail in the sea of salt in Mulhorand in the deep south and meet up in the Sea of Fallen Stars with a vessel that started from the tortured lands near the great glacier, passing through Damara, Vaasa and Impiltur before entering the sea proper. Great stuff. What is really striking about this map is the scale of it. It feels larger than th

Fantasy Map Review III: Dragonlance

For links to all instalments in this series, go here . Next up is another map many will know but few have praised - The map of Ansalon from the 2nd edition Dragonlance boxed set "Tales of the Lance". First Impressions: My initial impression is not as favourable as the preceeding ones, but there are still some interesting things going on here: The gulf of the new sea tells a story about how kingdoms shape up in central ansalon. Southern Ergoth looks like a kickass island of adventure. And I want to know more about that southwestern strip of the mainland bordering Southern Ergoth. I'd also like to know more about those island kingdoms up in the northeast corner. And what's going on around the Bay of Balifor? Besides that, the north and south just sort of... end, with wastelands at each end (plains of dust/Icewall, Northern Wastes/Nordmaar). The bloodsea puts a downer on what could have been an eastern Ansalon full of vitality. And the centre of the mainland

Fantasy Map Review II: Greyhawk

For links to all instalments in this series,  go here. Second instalment in the series gives a strong showing with another iconic example - The Flanaess as depicted in the World of Greyhawk Folio from 1980: First Impressions: It is with a certain amount of awe that I delicately unfold my original Darlene maps from the Greyhawk folio - Still in top notch shape after 35 years thanks to the sturdy paper the folio edition were printed on. From a gamer's perspective, you can't ask for more  - They are huge, sturdy enough to take to the table and have a lot going on. Not as beautiful and flavourful as Middle Earth, but still a work of art. And hex-mapped. All awesome. Further Thoughts:  The Flanaess is to me the gold standard of how to draw up a setting map. No borders are drawn and none are needed. The geography naturally points out how regions are shaped and interact with each other. You can learn a lot about the Flanaess just from this map: The Sheldomar Valley countri

Fantasy Map Review I: Middle Earth

For links to all instalments in this series,  go here. We're off to a somewhat lacklustre start with perhaps the most iconic fantasy map of all - J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle Earth First impressions: Love the style, it is immensely flavourful and says something about kind of world Middle Earth is. It makes me want to dig into its pockets and see what mysteries have been scribbled on to this piece of lore. Second thoughts - As a setting map, Middle Earth is, geographically speaking, dull as dishwater. Just a slab of land with a coastline, a few mountains and woods dotted here and there. For an entire setting, it doesn't give you much to explore or evoke many impressions about the realms there and how they relate to each  other. Some will argue that there is more to Middle Earth than this, but not effectively so. This is the main campaign map the same way the Flanaess is the main area of Oerik and Faerun is the main area of Toril. As a setting map, it falls flat - Ju

MAPS. It's a big thing

Man, maps. As a teenager I spent hours pouring over them,studying areas and worlds based on them. Who was neighbouring who and what areas did they have to go through to get to each other? How many day travels deep is that forest? How few roads are in that area? How many towns per days of wilderness? I sort of left behind this level of scrutiny in my 20s in favour of more explicit and condensed information but I don't think now that this was for the better. These sort of questions are evocative and immersive. A map says a lot about the kind of setting you are dealing with. The map of Erce has gone through a lot of evolution over the years. About a year ago I thought I had settled on the map structure, but even now I am making small changes to the continent. Over the next few weeks, I will discuss different setting maps, how they inspire (and how they don't) and wrap it up with an introduction to the actual map of Erce,it's evolution, why it is way it is, what I like

What's next

The forthcoming post on the Hearthstone church is indefinitely delayed. I feel like I have plenty of good ideas about my Christianity ersatz, and plenty of ideas for making it distinct enough that it only reminds of rather than emulates, but I am stuck between a few concepts and don't have a feeling that I've quite nailed this one yet. I've written lots of other stuff and will share in a less orderly manner than I originally planned (creative impulse follows its own schedule I am learning). But I also feel a wish to discuss some more meta like subjects. Inspirations of mine, why they inspire and so forth. So you can expect some assessment of other settings in the near future as well.