View Full Version : Summerlands Before the Breaking

01-09-2011, 12:20 AM
This is a historical (centuries old) map of the prime material plane of the Planescape-ish world I'm building for a 4e game. A few years after this map was made (and despite the annotations it is indeed incredibly accurate), the War of the Covenant resulted in the breaking of the world and the retreat of the gods to their own plane permanently (yeah, I know, that particular concept isn't very original, but it's very handy for explaining ruins for adventurers to plunder). Next is the current map of the known world, and I may decide to get artsy with the planar structure and post that up eventually too.

A few map-related factoids about cosmology/geology/etc.:

The world is indeed flat.
Light is provided by eight divine torches (one for each of the major gods of light). At regular intervals throughout the day, a torch is lit/extinguished, so time is measured by how many torches are currently lit, i.e. First Torch, Second Torch, ... Midday, .... and I'm still working on names for the segments of daylight, but that should convey the idea.
The nighttime sky has no stars or moon; instead it looks a bit like a constant, faint, multicolored Aurora -- without the blazing torches overpowering everything, the dancing/frolicking/working/blah-blah of the celestial horde is faintly visible.
The torches are centrally placed with respect to the material plane, so from any point not directly in the shadow of a mountain/building etc. one can clearly see all 8 torches (if lit). They're basically stationary, miniature suns. When the cities of the gods were directly beneath them, the gods kept the innermost lands from being blasted by the heat, but this is no longer the case. Now the land directly beneath the torches is pretty much scorched.
Wind and weather are at the mercy of the gods, their lieutenant demigods, and elementals coming to the material plane to play.

The cities and roads will gain labels as I work on the next map (after the breaking), and the whole thing needs aging. Annotations will also get added as I work on the rest, but this is done enough to post, I think. Everything so far is today's work, using the quickie methods in my hand-drawn tut.

Comments, suggestions, questions etc. are always appreciated!

01-09-2011, 12:30 AM
Incredible !! :)

01-09-2011, 06:42 PM
So after the sketch of the world before the breaking, time to break the world. These two keys show the pieces of land and where each piece is before and after the breaking. The after pieces will erode/etc. into slightly different shapes and in many cases break apart further, but they'll stay put from here. Now to actually start the real map!

01-09-2011, 07:10 PM
I'm so glad you're back! Seeing your work is such a pleasure! No suggestions from me, I'm afraid!

01-09-2011, 09:13 PM
Very cool! Looks like it will be a fun project to work on :)

01-09-2011, 10:23 PM
Thanks guys!

Ok, I'm at a point where I need to ask for input. Since the major (only, really) reference point is in a fixed position in the center of the map, my thinking is that the map itself should move to orient on that point. So each landmass would be drawn with "up" pointing at the center .... and all mounted on a pivoting plate something like the following below.

What I'd like to know is, do you think I'm barking up the wrong tree? If not, does it need more hardware? (Other than a decent background of course.) I'm thinking there should be clips around the edges to non-destructively hold the map to the plate, but I can't for the life of me figure out how to draw them. Having ideas that are WAY beyond our ability to create is how we grow, right? ;)

As a sidenote: If I do end up doing it this way, I'd probably wrap it in Java or Flash at the end so that someone viewing it could actually pivot the thing.

01-09-2011, 10:53 PM
I think that's called a polar-centric view - I'm sure those who really know the tech stuff will know the name - so, no, it's not crazy. As for holding the map to the plate - you could use tape, push pins, paper weights, or just let the edges curl up.

01-11-2011, 02:39 PM
Thanks Asc ... I think I'm going to go with an outer clip ring, and model the whole apparatus after an old-school astrolabe, those things are fascinating.

The bad news is that I've relapsed a bit, so the project will be on hold for a bit now :(

01-11-2011, 04:16 PM
Oh man... don't say that! Tell your back to get off your back! Must see more of this project! MUST!

01-11-2011, 04:58 PM
Hehe. Well I went to the doctor today and he confirmed that it's just a minor relapse. And my hubby's getting me tools so I can work on it on paper in bed ... so hopefully when I can get back into gimp in a few days I'll have some good stuff to post :)

01-12-2011, 12:20 PM
And here i thought I a broken Discworld was an original idea... yours is no doubt going to turn out better than mine.

I did find this great inspiration to get back in the saddle on my discworld, thanks Gidde, and good luck dont let yer man spoil you too much in bed ;)
After a car accident a few months back, my wife let me have my touch screen computer next/on top of the bed for a week (for the same reason) before she wanted her husband and bed back.. lol

01-12-2011, 12:41 PM
And here i thought I a broken Discworld was an original idea... yours is no doubt going to turn out better than mine.

Ha! No way, just different. :) As far as originality is concerned, this is my turn-off-the-censor project. I've been paralyzed in writing and mapping for a while because i had to come up with something BRAND NEW! But this time, I'm letting myself use the tropes, use the cliches, and hopefully tweak the whole thing into something that does end up wholly mine. "Broken discworld" may not be original, but it's what we DO with that broken discworld that makes it special! Glad to be some help in getting back into yours, I'm excited to see how it turns out!

01-12-2011, 12:50 PM
This is some really good stuff. Flat worlds banzai! Mythological common sense banzai!

Some questions:

Any seasons?
Is there a night, and is that night as long as the period during which all the torches are lit?
What do the sundered pieces float on - space, air or ocean?

01-12-2011, 01:15 PM

I'm working on the seasons part. My original thought was no, but I'm exploring some ideas for how I might make seasons work, as part of my "how do you measure a year? how is it segmented (months etc)? How do people know it's a festival day?" work. There are eight major gods of light, and eight major gods of shadow, so I'm leaning toward base-8 or base-16 numbering of everything, which lends itself to a 8-day week, 4 or 8 week month, 8 or 16 month year, with each god influencing the weather and/or activities for "their" month. This is actually my main focus as I figure out how to measure time and space with my astrolabe I'm designing.

Night is easier. There is a night, and it lasts the same amount of time as daylight, but I don't think it's signified in any way (ie. during the day you can look up and see how many torches are lit, but night is for rest. who cares what time it is?). Anyone who really needs to measure time at night can use candles/hourglasses calibrated by daylight timespans, which work beautifully. I'm setting the torches in a ring, like gemstones in metal, I think, and the ring will glow softly at night, rather like a moon somewhat dimmer than ours.

The sundered pieces are separated by ocean, which flooded in from the primordial seas when the land was broken. So the world which results is very dominated by marine technology. Most trade is by ship, and probably half the population has at least a rudimentary knowledge of boats and how they work. Most of the civilizations that have developed since the breaking are coastal, with much of the inland areas of each landmass remaining quite wild and ruined -- and riddled with entrances into (and out of, unfortunately) the underworld. The denizens of the abyssal planes have made it very difficult for the mortal races to rebuild great civilizations, so the world is dominated by tiny kingdoms and city-states.

01-12-2011, 04:46 PM
Sorry for double post, but I actually have an update, yay.

This is the first pass at the astrolabe's back panel, an engraved overview map of the world as it now stands. The center islands aren't included, as they'd be covered by the center pivoting fixture, which I'm planning to make a stylized version of the ring and torches which sit above them. The circle cutting through the center is the edge of full sun; the edge of the engraving is the edge of twilight. Any land that is cut off is a shadowed land in permanent night.

I haven't started labeling, obviously; I'm trying to decide whether to add a bas relief of geography onto the islands or not, and whether to use latin numerals or create numerals for the base-8 system of dividing the circle that's on there.

01-12-2011, 07:10 PM
If it was me, I'd create a unique numbering system for it. Adds character.

01-12-2011, 09:33 PM
Thanks, that tips the scales, because I was leaning that way already :)

01-12-2011, 10:22 PM
more land mass total area compared to water maybe? I looks more like a circular area of islands than one piece fractured. It was mostly land with just rivers before right? where did all the water come from or is that just "void" space in between

01-13-2011, 03:13 PM
Well, the goal was to create an archipelago in the first place; we wanted a swashbuckling, high-seas sort of world to play in. The original was a very large island in the center of an endless sea, so when it broke, the sea came in and filled the area between. I spread it out as much as it is in order to fill the twilight zone (haha no pun intended, but that's what it is) and have at least a few pieces of island in the dark zone, and also to have some nice, big, dangerous oceans to sail upon. :)

Next update: Created and incorporated the base-8 angle-numbering. The last two pieces of this side of the astrolabe are the inset torch-ring for the center and a distance marker that can spin, so that any point on the disc will have coordinates: an angle and a distance from the center ring. A navigator using this will be able to get the distance and angle of his current position from the other side's tools, so this will pinpoint him on the map. (It's not as precise as gps, but precise enough to get around. I'll have an idea exactly how precise when I get the math on the other side going.)

01-13-2011, 10:48 PM
Sorry for double post, but the back plate is now done! The pointer has distances measured in Ells, which in this world are each 8 leagues, not the arms' length of historical tailor shops.

01-14-2011, 01:19 PM
Wow this is looking incredible!

01-14-2011, 01:40 PM
Thanks Del!

01-14-2011, 03:29 PM
Looks awesome, pretty interested in seeing how the other side of it gets worked out.

If the torches are decently high up, radius from the hub should be a snap based on elevation angle? As for your angle on the circle, if the torches all light up in a specific order every day that should be able to give you a fairly good indication depending on how distinct each torch is (you'd have some problems if torches farther away weren't distinguishable from those closer).

01-14-2011, 03:47 PM
Thanks, aimlessgun, and welcome to the Guild!

Yes, the torches are 24miles up, which makes distance a simple trig function from the nearest edge of the ring (which I believe would show up as the highest point). I have it in a spreadsheet, but I want to check my math without the influence of painkillers before I start the math side of the astrolabe :) So now I'm working on the (fairly large) paper companion map.

I was kinda stressing about the angle determination until I realized I was being a dolt. That's what compasses are for! So I decided to just make all lodestones point to the center of the divine ring. :D

As far as the distinctness of the torches, they're colored (the colored gems on the inset of the back plate represent them fairly accurately). So definitely distinct. Also, I did up an illustration of the 15 hours of daylight and which torches are lit when.

01-15-2011, 08:59 AM
I really like the whole idea of this Plane.
This thing is going to be something very exciting and new, although some parts of it are not really original, as the flat world concept itself.
I will keep an eye on the progress.

Keep up with the good work.

01-15-2011, 09:42 AM
Thanks for the kind words, narogi!

01-15-2011, 01:06 PM
And a new update; I'm trying out the style for the bump map here. I wanted to take what I did with the Belgariad map's mountains and apply that type of sculpting to the whole thing. I think I like where the topography is going here.

The colors are just thrown together from the same map palette used in RobA's regional map tut -- I'm planning on coming up with a more individualized and detailed color scheme. Ditto for the ocean, just thrown in. I'm not sure how I'm going to do rivers yet, there are a couple of obvious river valleys in there but my first try (with rivers cut out of the land) looked horrid. So that's a major to-do.

And .... this made such a fantastic topo piece for the astrolabe back plate I'm going to end up having to do those in topo.

So ... style tryout at 5 px/mi at the "correct" orientation (oriented so the divine ring would be top center if the map extended that far - hence the lighting at top center), and a clip of the astrolabe with the topo mapped island.

Do the elevation bumps look ok in the zoomed-in map?

01-15-2011, 11:09 PM
And another style tryout, using the same height map for the mountains but toned down the hilly areas on the other side of the island. Also a more understated style overall. Not really sure if the simple gradient sea works, but I think I like this better than the last one.

01-16-2011, 01:43 AM
great idea Gidde, look really good :) ... I definitly like the second land style better, but I'd go for a little more dynamic sea since it is a swashbuckling world :)

01-16-2011, 01:37 PM
I like the second version much better, but I think you could do with tapering your rivers some more. Of course since this is only a test, I'm sure you're already aware of that. :D

01-16-2011, 01:55 PM
Thanks Diamond! I was trying to get to real-scale for the river which would be 1-4 pixels or so, but I think I agree with you. More tapering would still be better at this scale.

01-16-2011, 02:21 PM
The second style is definitely better.

01-17-2011, 11:00 PM
Arg. I did island #2 to make sure that I could repeat the style from island to island .... and I just can't get these mountains to work reliably from one map to the next - which is frustrating since they're so much darned work. Maybe it was just a once-off style that I happened to make work once. Dammit. Back to the style drawing board yet again, I'm afraid. >.<

01-21-2011, 06:34 PM
So after falling back and punting style-wise, here's the first crack at the whole-world map. I'm just starting on rivers, but otherwise the landforms are done. The white ring will give the angle measurements for the reticule and further subdivisions, rather like the astrolabe. The legend, title, scale, etc. will go in the parchment-colored empty space above and below the map. The center feature is a permanent howling storm that bars exploration of the center of the world. LOTS of work yet to do, but I figured I'd post this up since it had been forever since the last update.

01-21-2011, 11:10 PM
Looks nice, ma'am. :)

01-22-2011, 06:47 AM
This is looking quite excellent, quite excellent, myes. Looking forward to more.

01-22-2011, 02:43 PM
I give this the Diamond Seal of Approval. :)

01-22-2011, 06:37 PM
Thanks for the kind words!

Lots of stuff done for this update, though it may not look quite as impressive lol -- behind the scenes the basic demographics for each island is started; visibly, there are rivers and dots for the major cities placed. ;) The dots are temporary location-markers; I'm thinking that I'll indicate size of cities by the label font, and have all of the city markers themselves be even.

I also finished the outer ring of angles and the labels for the reticule. Now .... massive amounts of labels to add in. Yay!

01-24-2011, 06:07 PM
At a temporary standstill with the labels as I'm struggling with fonts for the islands vs. nations vs. big cities vs. small cities. So I worked around the problem a bit. I have the city icons finalized (I think). The map now has a title and by-line (Mr. Daergelnackle is a PC from one of the first games I ever ran, and he is now uber, retired, and the owner/captain of a rare gnomish airship), and I started on a depiction of the ring of sun-torches (although it obviously needs some more work -- they need to look like suns/torches, not christmas tree ornaments). Also a legend started that I completely hate so far. And, I'm starting to think that since all of the cities are coastal, maybe I do need some forests after all. Not sure on that one. Opinions?

Oh, and I had to shrink this to half size to upload it, so the full-res version can be found here (http://dl.dropbox.com/u/2913734/ShatteredIslesCurrent-FullRes.jpg) if you want to view that.

01-24-2011, 11:23 PM
I would leave it as is, sans forests. They'll just clutter it up and hide the rivers. If you later on do regional maps of the various islands, you could add 'em then.

I think the general idea/layout of the torches looks okay; maybe tone down the colors a bit, so they're more pastel-ish?

01-24-2011, 11:37 PM
Thanks for the two cents on the forests, it was just looking kind of bare. I think I agree with you.

Yeah, they'd certainly match the rest of the map better. I left em all vivid and saturated for the moment in hopes of chilling out the colors through lighting effects, but I need to do a lot of learning & trial & error before I can get that accomplished. So for now it's basically just sketch. I promise I'll do *something* with them. :)

01-25-2011, 04:31 AM
Nice looking map here Gidde.

01-25-2011, 08:28 AM
Thankee kindly, Jax :)

02-03-2011, 11:44 PM
Small update here -- fixed the divine ring so that it looks a lot more like the mini-suns it's supposed to be representing. Also, switched out all of the fonts to ones I've created.

02-04-2011, 03:14 PM
It's looking gorgeous, Gidde. I love the revamped Ring, and that font looks to be very readable even at small sizes. Nice!!!

Steel General
02-04-2011, 03:19 PM
Nice work Gidde!

02-06-2011, 06:32 AM
Keep up the good work!

02-06-2011, 11:39 AM
Thats pure awesomeness... have your rep!

02-06-2011, 12:22 PM
Absolutely beautiful! And the fonts work brilliantly, Gidde!

My favourite bit of is not the map (gorgeous as it is) but the projection, graticule and the border!

Fab work and rep coming if it will let me!