View Full Version : FTPro - Random World Mapping for Fun and (no) Profit

Master TMO
02-20-2011, 03:23 PM
I was working on a random world map and came up with a couple new (for me) methods, so I thought I'd start a new world from scratch using them and document the steps here in case they might come in useful for someone.

First step was picking the base world. I used the Voronoi Ridged Multifractal, a personal preference of mine because it does a better job of not putting the mountain ranges smack in the center of the continents. Once I found a world I liked, I started tweaking and playing with the parameters for the fractal function. Small, incremental changes are the best way to do that, as larger ones tend to result in a completely different-looking world.

Actually, I lied. ;) The first step was naming the world, as I had to create a folder to store all the files in. Welcome to the world of Gryphii.

Here is the basic world map of Gryphii, with no modifications except a non-standard "Earth-like" color scheme:

From here we can see a few obvious things that need fixing. Any piece of land below sea level is shown underwater, so we can see several sections of land that need to be filled in. Also, the landmasses on the right connect in ways I don't find very plausible.

I will post up each step I take in trying to finish off this world. Feel free to post feedback or questions at any time.

Master TMO
02-20-2011, 03:37 PM
The first step is dropping the water level down to -1000 ft, which is where FTPro puts the edges of the continental shelves. This is where I'm going to do most of the bulk automatic processing of the map, since a lot of the processes stop at the waterline.

Here is the world map using this view:

Using this view, we can see that all the continental shelves are pretty tightly connected, and there are some holes that definitely need to be dealt with.

UPDATE: The reason I am lowering the sea level down to the continental shelf is because FTPro's Fill Basin and River commands all run until they hit the waterline and stop. Which is natural - rivers stop when they hit a lake or ocean, and the Fill Basins command should not fill in the ocean beds. By temporarily lowering the water level to the continental shelves, I am hopefully eliminating this problem for my continents. Basins will fill, and rivers will run all the way down, incising the water flow into the coastline (which I think actually has some basis in reality, as rivers continue along the sea bed for a while before dissipating into the ocean).

02-20-2011, 03:41 PM
I actually kind of like those holes. Almost as if this is a super-continent 'about' to break up.

02-20-2011, 03:43 PM
Another option would be to set the continental shelves to 0 altitude rather than dropping the sea level. That way land will start at 0 altitude.

Master TMO
02-20-2011, 06:50 PM
Oh, but where's the fun in that? :) My thinking in working on it at the continental shelf range is that I can use Fill Basins to fix the pits and divots at sea level, because Fill Basins won't stop at sea level like it normally does. It stops at the waterline, which is now much lower. So it will fix the errors at sea level for me.

I've gone around the edges of the continental shelves and trimmed them to look a bit more realistic. I didn't connect any of them together, even though that's realistic, since then I'd have to put in some mountains to simulate the continental collision. I didn't have to worry too much about the tiny pits or offshore islands, since they most likely won't affect anything once I move the sea level back up to 0.

Here is the new map:

02-20-2011, 06:57 PM
Watching this exchange of views with interest ;)

Master TMO
02-20-2011, 07:20 PM
Thinking about it, I think the reason for the discussion is my fault. I did not say *why* I was lowering the sea level. So therefore the natural assumption is that I'm lowering them because I want the sea level to be at the continental shelf. Poor writing style for a thread that purports to possibly be a tutorial. I should have explained why I was lowering it better, and that it was purely temporary. I'll go back and add an edit to my above post with an explanation.

Master TMO
02-20-2011, 09:03 PM
The next step is checking to make sure I filled in all the holes in the continental shelves correctly. If I leave a spot below sea level and under water, Fill Basins will not fill the hole, rivers will run there instead of to the coast, incise flow will carve the erosion paths in that direction, etc. Now, there are occasions where we *want* that to happen. Death Valley lies below sea level. The Mediterranean Sea could theoretically be closed off at the Gibraltar Straits and be a below-sea level basin.

I can check this by running the Find Rivers command, I can look at the river paths and look for low points, where the rivers do not run toward the coast like they should. One of the things to keep in mind with FTPro when it runs rivers is that it runs them to the waterline by the lowest possible path. That lowest possible path may require water to run uphill. At this point, we don't really care about that. We're just making sure everything reaches the coastline properly.

This is the river view:

We can see one major area of concern on the eastern continent, which I've marked off in the box. Zooming in, we see:

There are a couple of spots that I missed raising the land masses above the shelf limit. By pulling the water line back up to regular sea level, I can see if it's a natural valley I may want to retain or not. In this case, the areas are completely underwater, and I don't care:

So I filled them in, checked the rest of the map, and called it good. Here's the fixed version:

Master TMO
02-20-2011, 10:17 PM
The next step is fairly simple, following the steps in JSlayton's tutorial (http://www.ridgenet.net/~jslayton/CGTutorial/index.html). In order, they are:

- Tools>>Global Smooth>>Prescale Land Offset (value 1)
- Tools>>Actions>>Fill Basins in Offset
- Tools>>Global Smooth>> Land Offset (value 1)
- Tools>>Actions>>Incise Flow (Blur: 1.5; Amount: 2; Flow: 0.4; Blend: 0.5)

Note: At least in my beta version of FTPro, the order of the fields in the dialog box has changed from the days of the tutorial. Make sure you put the values in the right fields.
- Tools>>Actions>>Fill Basins in Offset
- Tools>>Global Smooth>>Land Offset (value 2)

Here is the map after all those processes:

And here it is with the water level raised back up to sea level:

Obviously there are still a few issues with Fill Basins not quite filling in everything. My guess is that it is probably just an issue with accurately depicting almost level terrain. I'll manually fill them in and tweak things to look good.

Master TMO
02-20-2011, 11:02 PM
Well, unfortunately that last result kind of invalidates some of the goal of what I was trying for. Humph. The goal was to eliminate the need for the tedious and manual filling of holes below sea level. But apparently, at least in my version of the beta (which is not the most recent one), it doesn't quite manage to fill them all in. Oh well. :) It was still an interesting WIP, and maybe this thread will help someone else.

NOTE: It could very well be the result of a bug due to my OS - the Beta I have was because I was one of, if not the, first person to use FTPro on a Win 7 64-bit system. If you are interested in applying anything from here, I would advise you to give it a try. Can't hurt, after all. :) It's also possible I goofed somewhere along the line. I'm hardly an expert at this.

02-21-2011, 01:37 AM
FT decouples the fractal function from the world editing features. This characteristic has its good and bad points, but one of the bad points is that operations that work with altitudes (like fill basins) must work at a constant resolution that's different from the fractal function. The net result is that a filled area will be full of tiny holes. A small blur may help to smooth them out, as would selecting the nearly-flat areas and raising them slightly.

Master TMO
02-21-2011, 09:31 AM
Good to know. While I have owned a copy of FTPro for years and years, I've only recently really started to use it (if 1 map every 6 months or so counts as 'use' ;) ), so there's a lot of subtle interactions like that one that I'm not familiar with yet. I build my worlds using a size of 4096 pixels, the max the system can handle, iirc. Is there a magic resolution size where the fractal and altitude functions line up, or is it a function of the math that they'll always be just slightly out of sync with each other? I have enough of a math background that I have a vague concept of how complex the various functions of the program must be.

Also, on another topic, which tool is best for manually filling in those smaller holes? I've been using Pre-scale editing, but I (finally) noticed that the Fill Basins command was post-scale. Once a post-scaling tool has been run, would it be better to switch to the regular altitude-editing tools, or is the pre-scale offset tool still best?

Thanks for the responses! I'm going to try and remove the word tutorial from the thread title, since I don't think this qualifies any more, but it was still quite worth posting, as I am learning from it. (edit: I could change the thread title within the thread, but not the global title. It was worth a shot. ;) )

02-21-2011, 09:50 AM
No worries, Master TMO, I'll remove the 'tutorial' title for you. I use FT Pro too, but not to this depth of complexity!



Master TMO
02-21-2011, 10:09 AM
Much obliged.

02-21-2011, 06:26 PM
Good to know. While I have owned a copy of FTPro for years and years, I've only recently really started to use it (if 1 map every 6 months or so counts as 'use' ;) ), so there's a lot of subtle interactions like that one that I'm not familiar with yet. I build my worlds using a size of 4096 pixels, the max the system can handle, iirc.

FT has a hard upper limit of 8000 in the software; I use 4096 because it's a convenient size for me to work with. 32-bit windows has a hard limit of around 3GB to work with (2 GB for most programs) and all the editing data with undo levels must fit within that footprint. It's pretty easy to get FT to run out of memory when using large editing settings. You'll know it's run out of memory by the helpful "illegal operation" dialog box and a catastrophic shutdown. Letting FT handle huge editing areas would require either (a) a 64-bit version or (b) clever programming. Either of these options would take a fair amount of effort.

Is there a magic resolution size where the fractal and altitude functions line up, or is it a function of the math that they'll always be just slightly out of sync with each other? I have enough of a math background that I have a vague concept of how complex the various functions of the program must be.

The editing things are effectively an image of the size specified. The fractal function is an arbitrary construct that doesn't really have a fixed resolution. It will eventually run out of new information when zoomed in past roughly lacunarity to the octaves power, but the system will continueto generate interpolated results right on down to the numeric precision of the machine.

Also, on another topic, which tool is best for manually filling in those smaller holes? I've been using Pre-scale editing, but I (finally) noticed that the Fill Basins command was post-scale. Once a post-scaling tool has been run, would it be better to switch to the regular altitude-editing tools, or is the pre-scale offset tool still best?

I really ought to get around to making some of the offset tools work with the prescale offset things.
The primary advantage of the prescale offset editing is that it occurs before the final exponential operator that's responsible for the continental shelf. Even if you use tools that do post-scale editing, I would still recommend doing the basic raise/lower operations with the prescale tools. You'll need to remember that you have a contribution from the post-scale channel, though, when you start getting odd results. It's kind of a mess having the two different editing channels (and one of the reasons that the prescale editing was a late addition to the software - I was really avoiding it as much as possible).

02-21-2011, 06:30 PM
<s> bless, Waldronate!

Master TMO
02-21-2011, 10:10 PM
Letting FT handle huge editing areas would require either (a) a 64-bit version or (b) clever programming. Either of these options would take a fair amount of effort.

Well, since I'm running 64-bit Win7, I've got a shiny new rep point for you in return for a 64-bit version. :D

Master TMO
02-28-2011, 08:56 PM
Another possible trick to make cleaning up those below sea-level lakes is to change the color scheme to something more high-contrast, so you can see them better.



Master TMO
02-28-2011, 11:00 PM
Heh. The biggest problem with the black and white map when you're scooting along the coastline is suddenly forgetting which color is land and which is sea. :D

Master TMO
03-01-2011, 05:43 PM
Here is the current state of the map, in glorious Black and White. I haven't done any erosion on it yet, just filled in the coastlines.

This map does have a couple interesting island-filled bays. I can see ships are going to be very important to the various cultures, although erosion will probably change those bays pretty drastically, so it may wind up not quite so central to the civilizations. I haven't come to any solid decisions yet as to natives, but I'm currently leaning toward a semi-traditional fantasy world, with a different race being the primary on each continent. Say, somethiing like humans on the central main continent, orcs on the top left, elves on the right, and maybe savage trolls on the bottom left. There is plenty of room on that central continent though for all kinds of folk. It spans from 68 degrees north to 45 degrees south, and is about 120 degrees across from side to side. That makes it bigger than Asia, and possibly Asia+Africa. Hard to tell for sure. FTPro doesn't do surface area calculations.

It's an interesting world so far. It's fun seeing what just trying things out to see if they work can result in.

Master TMO
03-01-2011, 06:11 PM
Speaking of just trying things to see what happens, I get some unexpected results when I play with the Continental Shelves value.

Here it is with the default shelves set at 1000 ft below sea level. This one also has all of my edits and such.

Here it is with the shelves moved up to 500 ft below sea level:

What I had expected was to possibly lose my hand-edits and for the shelves to compress inward toward the coastlines. What apparently did happen was that my edits were retained (the world would look much different back in its original form) and that the landmasses were raised up, bringing the coastlines closer to the shelves. Now, the shelves did move in very, very slightly, and there are spots in the flat areas underwater where it dropped into abysses. But overall the change in shelf outline is minimal.

This is just uninformed guesswork, but I would say that while we tend to think of the significant boundary for the landmasses in FT being at sealevel, it looks like it's actually at the shelves. I had been thinking of it as working from the top down elevation-wise, with it just putting in the shelves wherever it happened to reach -1000 ft. But it looks like it might be the opposite - building the shelves first at whatever depth is defined, and then going upward from there. I haven't built one yet, but I wonder if there would be any functional difference between shelves @ -500 ft and shelves @ -1000 ft and the water level set to -500?

Master TMO
03-03-2011, 09:55 AM
I'm still playing around with a few things on this map, trying to speed up some of the manual processes. (I have an incurable hobby of trying to turn manual processes into automatic ones.) However, while driving in to work this morning I spent a bit of time wondering about the tectonic processes that would result in that large bay on the main continent that is surrounded by a circular mountain range. I'm no tectonics expert, but the only two I've been able to come up with are: 1) hit an sub-continent similar to India in the past, and has almost completely finished submerging it back into the crust, leaving just the mountain range as evidence of the collision. Or 2) is in the process of somehow being pushed up and around a seafloor plate, swinging closed on it, and therefore pushing underneath from multiple sides at once.

Master TMO
03-04-2011, 06:01 PM
Just to post a quick update and thumbnail at closing time. I'm in the middle of filling in the accidental lakes around the continents. After I'm done and checked it, it's on to manipulating the rainfall and temperature.

I'm not entirely sure what I think about the channel that's developed across the top right continent. If I should leave it, or fill it in.


I think I have enough ideas with this map that once I'm done with the geography, I can start with the inhabitants. Placing cities and countries and races, that sort of thing. I haven't looked at that before, so if anyone knows of any good resources on the site, I'd be happy for references.

Master TMO
03-06-2011, 11:21 PM
Well, as per my usual method, I get close to finishing up and I start it over again. :D However, this time I think I came up with a usable script. Every step I did to this map is a regular menu command, with only 1 step involving manual labor. I have not tested the script on other random worlds yet though, so it may not be generic enough. We'll have to see. But here are the start and end images.
Original map:

Final map:

Here are the steps used:

Landmass Preparation:
1 - Drop water level to -1000 ft
2 - Fill Basins
3 - Select altitude from -1000 to 0 ft
4 - Lower Pre-scale offset by 0.075
5 - Smooth Pre-scale offset by 2
6 - Incise Flow (Amt: 2; Flow Exp: 0.4; Blend: 0.5; Blur: 1.5)
7 - Fill Basins
8 - Smooth Offset by 2
9 - Set Water Level to 0 ft

Weather Tampering:
Dry out the Horse Latitudes:
10 - Load Horse Latitudes selection file (a selection file I created, will post it in a separate post)
11 - Lower Rainfall by 20 inches
12 - Raise Temperature by 10 degrees

Monsoon the Equator and 60 degree Lats:
13 - Load Weather Bands selection file (ditto Horse Latitudes file above)
14 - Raise Rainfall 20 inches

Dry the continental interiors:
15 - Select Altitude from 0 to 100000 ft
16 - Contract Selection by 10 pixels
17 - Lower Rainfall by 1 inch
18 - Repeat steps 16-17 until the selection completely disappears

Wet down the coasts:
19 - Select Altitude from -100000 to 0 ft
20 - Expand Selection 10 pixels
21 - Select Altitude from 0 to 100000 ft, subtract from current selection (this leaves a 10 pixel border around the edges of the continents as your current selection)
- Note: looks like the beta version I am using might be doing selection subtractions incorrectly. You may have to change this command to desired result. I am working with tech support to figure out what is going on, and will update/change this step as necessary.
22 - Raise Rainfall 2 inches

Clean up:
23 - MANUAL - Hand-fix potholes where sections inside the continent boundary drop below sea-level.
24 - Fill Basins
25 - Find Rivers

Master TMO
03-06-2011, 11:25 PM
Here are the selection files for the steps above. The files are sized for a map of 4096 pixels in size. You'd have to convert them if you use a different size map.

Horse Latitudes:


03-07-2011, 07:55 AM
Wow, I really wish I had the know how to get this much out of FT Pro!

Master TMO
03-07-2011, 09:47 AM
It's not actually completely valid, if you are trying for as much realism as you can get. Ocean and wind currents don't affect all coastlines equally. :) But I couldn't figure out any way of affecting a selection so it expanded in only the appropriate direction. Although while typing this I *did* just come up with an idea for another possible weather manipulation to do. :D

Master TMO
03-07-2011, 10:31 PM
Well, I think I've exported about all of the views I could reasonably use for plotting. Are there any good tutorials for laying out country boundaries and city locations using Photoshop? I did a quick search using Photoshop and Tutorial keywords, but mostly got WIPs. This is a new field of endeavor for me, so I'm pretty much starting from scratch, and any pointers would be welcome, even the most basic.

03-08-2011, 06:31 AM
Are you after pointers about where cities and country boundaries should be located (in which case that's not a photoshop question but a general geography / history one), or how to make country borders and city markers in photoshop?

Master TMO
03-08-2011, 10:14 AM
The drawing part. I think I know enough about history and geography to come up with something that sounds plausible, even though it would probably make actual historians, sociologists and biologists cry to see their fields butchered like that. ;)

And I will do some more searches myself as well. I was pretty tired last night when I posted that, and didn't have the patience for a full search.

03-08-2011, 10:50 AM
Making dotted or dashed borderlines in Photoshop is pretty easy.
For dotted lines, just use a hard round brush and adjust the spacing to suit. To make dashed lines, use a hard square brush and pull out the spacing past 100%, squash the brush tip shape so the square becomes a rectangle and set the Angle Jitter to 'Direction' under the Shape Dynamics Menu. Alternative dots and dashes together are slightly more involved, but I can take you through how to make those if you need them.

If what you're after is a more 'glowing border' effect, then use a soft brush on its own layer. Again a bit more fiddling required, but I can do a quick tut for you if you want.

For cities you need to first decide how you want to depict them, whether as abstract symbols like squares or circles or something more hand drawn like little pictures of buildings and the like.

Master TMO
03-08-2011, 12:12 PM
I have experience manipulating photos and doing some sorta-photorealistic art attempts in PS, but I've never tried atlas-style mapping before. A little bit of experimentation brought me one way to do borders: Create a new layer, fill it with white, set the blending mode to 'Darken'. Add a Layer Mask that hides everything. Set the Layer Effects to Stroke a solid 1px line in the color you want. Then use a hard-edged eraser in the Layer Mask to lay out your area. It should create a visible border around the area you are erasing. You can also add an Inner or Outer Glow to it if you want. This is probably Photoshop Mapping 101 level stuff though, especially since I'm using an older version of PS.

03-08-2011, 12:15 PM
There's lots of ways, and that sounds like a good one for solid and inner glow borders! Sounds like you have it all under control!

Master TMO
03-08-2011, 12:45 PM
What is the best way to add points in Photoshop? I played around a bit with the Polygon tool yesterday, but they are hard to reliably see at different zooms. Which may be something I just have to deal with in PS. At the moment I'm just plotting generalities, like historic regions and prime city locations. Ideally I'd like a vector layer of points I can just turn on and off that are visible at any zoom level. But, again, PS may not do that.

03-08-2011, 12:53 PM
To be honest, I tend to do all my borders, city dots and labelling in vector. It's much faster, easier and editable.

If you want to add a point, zoom in, use the ellipse selection tool (hold down the shift key to constrain it to a circle) and then fill and stroke it with the colour(s) of your choice.

Master TMO
03-08-2011, 12:58 PM
Any good free vector tools out there? I have an older vintage copy of Illustrator also, but it is not compatible with 64-bit Win7 (to be honest, I'm kinda surprised Photoshop is compatible. Happy, but surprised). And I don't feel like going back to my old Win95 system just to do some vector points.

03-08-2011, 01:11 PM
Inkscape is free! It's probably the best of the free ones out there.

Master TMO
03-08-2011, 09:30 PM

No idea if I'm going to keep the boundaries, but here's what the test looks like. Not really usable for a final version, but nice for plotting and planning.

03-09-2011, 03:59 AM
The problem with the 'glowing edges' border is that it's not really designed to work with satellite style maps, it's more for hand drawn styles (or that's how it's been traditionally used). You might be better off using a more 'atlas' style where the boundaries are usually dashed lines?

One of the challenges you may have to work around is the the shaded relief detail...might be worth pulling that back a tad by using a more muted colour ramp so the borders show up better.

Master TMO
03-09-2011, 11:01 AM
True on the borders. I imagine, however, that a usable regional map might very well not use any of the FT original data. While it's great at building an entire world, even at high resolution it just isn't quite detailed enough to zoom in without seeing obvious artifacts. I used a resolution of 4096 to build the world map, which gives a scale of 1 pixel = 9.8 miles. The purple country up there is about 600 mi x 330 mi. So that's a detail of approximately 60 pixels by 33 pixels in size. If I take the resolution up to the apparent max of 8000, that's 5 miles per pixel, which would double the image size to 120 x 66 pixels. You can't zoom in to that very far without the pixellation being obvious. So the FT maps will need to be used for the larger satellite views, either world or regional, while closeups will need hand-painting.

Which is a totally new skillset for me. Never even attempted it before, although I've looked at maps other folks have produced. Wheee fun! :) To the Tutorial section!!! Now if only there were more hours in the day.....

Master TMO
03-09-2011, 11:46 PM
A bit of a Duh moment for me, most likely. FT can save tiled map images. I've never really used those before, so I'm exporting a batch now to play with. Assuming they come out with better resolution, they may solve some of the resolution errors. However, that doesn't change the resolution of the data in the FT file itself. I will have to see how it turns out. If the results are acceptable, you can also define views in FT and export those.

03-09-2011, 11:53 PM
I suspect that you're not going to get the results that you really want... The multi-file export in FT has some alignment issues. You'd think of all the features that one would be particularly hard to mess up, wouldn't you? It happened, though.

Master TMO
03-09-2011, 11:55 PM
Wow. Fast response time! Thanks for letting me know before I spend a lot of time exporting 17 layers of tiled maps. ;)

03-10-2011, 12:07 AM
Some folks have been able to get the tiling to work, but it requires some additional software, if I recall.

Master TMO
03-10-2011, 12:31 AM
What if I used the Percent Overlap option when exporting, and then lined them up manually whenever I sewed 2 together?

03-10-2011, 03:46 AM
If you have a sufficiently recent version of photoshop you can stitch them automatically in there with the panorama tool. There are also free panorama stitchers online.

Master TMO
03-10-2011, 11:15 AM
I have CS, and it does have Photomerge. I'm exporting a series of overlapped map tiles now to see how it does. I probably shouldn't have started with X-treeem high-res exports, but what the heck. ;) It'll do my computer good to have to exercise those processors. The Help file suggested a 15-40% overlap between tiles, so I selected 20% to get a good overlap without generating too many extra files.

Edit: Playing around with the math a bit. If I pick 1 pixel = 1 mile as my arbitrary target resolution for the output files, that means the total map will be 30000 pixels across. With a 20% overlap, I can produce a 30x30 grid of 1250x625 images. I am currently thinking that more smaller images would be better, so that I can assemble smaller regional maps easier without having to do as much clipping or trimming. I'll just have to keep a record of the grid pieces each region is made up of, since I export my map in several different layers and will want to have identical compositions so that there is no shifting of the different maps.

I thought about just defining Views in FT and exporting those, but then I get into the potential issue of different region views being at different scales, which would mean I would have a hard time re-using hand-drawn political boundaries between the different regions. And it would stink to have to try and draw the same exact boundary on two different maps at two different scales. I much prefer to have a single boundary I can copy/paste between different photoshop files. I prefer to make my computer do the hard work up front so that my job is easier later on.

I put too much thought into these things, don't I? :D

Master TMO
03-11-2011, 11:34 AM
Just a note for other folks (and myself in the future when I look back through my old threads for what I've done), FT seems to be exporting about 1 map slice per minute. So 900 slices will take 15 hours to finish. Fortunately, it seems to take my laptop going to sleep in stride alright and just picks up where it left off when I wake it back up.

Master TMO
03-15-2011, 11:23 AM
While I'm waiting for all the layer map slices to export, I'm browsing through the non-mapping worldbuilding threads, looking for tips about economy, trade, demographics, etc. I had some resources of my own already, and am busy bookmarking and subscribing to a bunch of others.

This is far from definitive yet, but here are the general world concept questions I am pondering at the moment:
* I wanted a world with plenty of space for the monsters and non-human races to exist, so it is not a semi-modern Renaissance-like world
** I am actually considering late Stone or Bronze Age, with maybe early Iron in a few places (dwarves most likely). Most resources are Medieval-oriented, but I can work backwards, and I already have some books on early history and tech development that I can build off of.
* How did the world generate multiple sentient races?
** Are all the races branches of the same species, or completely different?
** Are they genetically compatible for crossbreeding?
** If they are the same species, why are they so different from each other?
** Does the race have a different outlook that would affect how they build nations?
* What kinds of magic work? The standards are Wizard, Sorceror, Cleric, Druid, Shaman.
** How common is magic?
** How has magic affected a region?
* Language - just started looking at some of these resources, so I haven't really developed a whole list for it yet.
** Edit: Just read the Language Construction Kit. Now my brain hurts... :( I'm going to need to be a lot better rested and coherent before I attempt that again. ;)
* Economics
** Trade very much depends on the population and tech of the world, so it can't be fleshed out until that is done.

Master TMO
03-21-2011, 02:34 PM
Here is a brief overview of the world that I'm working on:

Overall, the world is in the early Bronze Age (think Ur, Uruk, Sargon, not Greek myths), with quite a few still in the late Stone Ages. Humans are the original race, evolving over millennia and migrating around the world.

Some humans have a talent for magic, but no real control over what spells they learn. These are the Sorcerors.

In major cities (by the local standards), it is possible for a group of Sorcerors to come together to study magic and their powers. With enough study, they could actually learn how to research specific spells, rather than rely on random growth. It takes them longer to learn spells, but they get to pick what to learn. These are the Wizards.

As humanity spread out around the world, occasionally a tribe would encounter a Power. Call them Gods, Spirits, Totems, whatever, they were able to offer power and aid to those who chose to follow them. A Power can guide and aid the magic of a Sorceror who follows them, channeling their magic into certain paths. A Power is very tied to their location, and the magic they promote is magic that is ideally suited to their land. Sorcerors who follow the Power develop magic that can aid their tribe in living and mastering their local environment. These are the Shamans.

Powers also affect their followers in other ways. Powers all hate the other Powers of the world. As a Shaman becomes more powerful, this attitude also affects them, and they become more and more xenophobic as they gain in power and level. And, the Power also affects newborn children, warping them each generation into a different race. This is how the different races came about. For instance, after generations of following the mountain Power, the people gradually turned into dwarves. Those following the forest Power became elves, and so on. The different races can still crossbreed with humans, producing a half-breed, but not any of the other races, as they are too different. It is possible for half-breeds to crossbreed with other half-breeds, but the result will most likely be pure human.

Ryan K
03-24-2011, 02:20 AM
While I'm waiting for all the layer map slices to export, I'm browsing through the non-mapping worldbuilding threads, looking for tips about economy, trade, demographics, etc. I had some resources of my own already, and am busy bookmarking and subscribing to a bunch of others.


* How did the world generate multiple sentient races?
** Are all the races branches of the same species, or completely different?
** Are they genetically compatible for crossbreeding?
** If they are the same species, why are they so different from each other?
** Does the race have a different outlook that would affect how they build nations?

Thought I'd jump in because I am sort of fleshing a bit of this out with my own projects.

With regard to races branching off, that is probably your best bet. Only a few dozen thousand years ago, we shared the landscape with another sentient species - the neanderthals. We shared a long extinct common ancestor, yet we quite happily followed different paths of evolution. The neanderthal had some very stark contrasts from us, in their skeletal structure most noticeably. With that in mind, I find it a whole lot easier to understand where dwarves come from. Elves I find a little tricky, because waters tend to get muddied when you try to biologically explain why elves are so fricking uber all the time. I danced around that one by simply downgrading elves to normal mortals like the rest of us oxygen-thieves, with their own set of medical difficulties that don't seem to plague humanity, and some other characteristics that counterweigh the benefits of their longevity (which I think is a little bit of an untouchable elf trait).

This quite neatly dovetails into your second concept of interbreeding. There have been argument for the theory that humans and neanderthals interbred every now and again, but this will probably be largely unproven until we find fossil evidence of human/neanderthal hybrids. It is indeed possible; tigers and lions have been interbred, even though I think the offspring tends to be sterile/infertile, and donkeys and horses have done the nasty as well, giving us the common mule. I have a sneaking suspicion the human/neanderthal theory have a large support base in scientifically minded people who have a phobia of red-heads or have derisive things to say about the rugby team they didn't make selection for. History will decide.

Differences in physiology is all about evolution finding the most energy efficient way of getting people to reproduce more than they die off. So, have a look at typical physiology. Dwarves are short and stocky, hairier than Robin Williams, and are typically fair-skinned. Those could be very good hallmarks of a biological advantage in being strong diggers in cold environs, with a bit of energy being saved in not producing melanin in the skin.

Elves are harder. Depending on your take, such as fleet-footed-ness, excellent sensory faculties, quietness... well that just tells me of a biological need to get the heck out of danger and hiding until the bad things go away. Like I said, elves are hard.

With global outlook, I take the following tacts: dwarves are about as far-sighted as the next cave-wall, but apply highly developed engineering skills to a pragmatic concept of dealing with issues. Solutions to compelx problems can possibly be described by a dwarf in half a sentence. Elves like to avoid problems like the next predator, but with the ability to watch forests rise and fall throughout their lives, they may have a natural understanding of nature, and the nature of nature, than we like to think we have today. They are born to hide and watch. This may still be their attitude to the world. Watch for movement, and learn. Watch our kingdoms rise and fall like the waves on a beach, and hope if they stay quiet long enough, it will all just go away.

That's just my musings. Have a nice day! :)

Master TMO
04-07-2011, 10:57 PM
First attempt at a localized map using the slices exported from FTPro. I'm still trying to play with the river contrasts so make the smaller streams still visible, but obviously lesser than the larger rivers. Once I get the look tweaked the way I like it I can export it into Inkscape or something similar to start placing cities, roads, trade routes, whatever I decide on.

Oh, nothing is custom drawn yet. It's all based solely on FTPro exports, although I am using Photoshop filters and layer styles, mostly on the rivers. So there are a few artifacts that need cleaning, but nothing too serious.

Scale is approximately 1 pixel = 1 mile, as I believe this map is close to the equator. That's something I'll have to calculate exactly though before I get too in-depth.
[EDIT: Added a simple scalebar to the map]

04-08-2011, 07:50 AM
That's some really nice looking terrain!
As for the rivers/streams: Would it help to have a lighter band of water right at the coast, and then have the rivers be the same color as that?

04-08-2011, 10:16 AM
I find the perfectly straight sections of the rivers quite distracting. Perhaps filling basins before doing rivers might help? At the scale you're working, though, you may not have the editing resolution to fill enough of the basins to prevent a lot of straightening.

Master TMO
04-08-2011, 10:25 AM
Yup, basins were filled before rivers were run (sounds like a sequel movie). So editing resolution is probably the culprit here, although I generated the rivers at double the image size resolution. The world is at 4096 pixels, and I generated the rivers using 8192. Is there a limit to that number like there is for the whole world? Or could I generate rivers using a 30000 pixel setting?

Master TMO
04-08-2011, 12:51 PM
I tried it at 30k pixels and it immediately crashed. ;) I'll try some smaller resolutions and see if I can find one that works that is higher than 8192.

04-08-2011, 03:04 PM
Everything in FT is limited by available process memory (roughly 2GB or 3GB total for everything that the program is doing). Many operations require temporary copies of the surface to work with, so what may work with one operation may cause a crash with another. FT doesn't have the world's best error checking as far as memory operations go.

Master TMO
04-08-2011, 04:50 PM
A quick application of the Ripple filter in PS fixes the straight lines issue. The main difficulty with it will be that it won't ripple the straight lines the same way on different maps, so if a river segment is in the overlap, it will display differently on different maps. That's something I'll have to think about and experiment with. Maybe I can set up the ripple effect so that it is identical in those overlap zones or something.


Master TMO
05-16-2011, 12:47 AM
My entry in the May 2011 Challenge using this world map. (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?14699-May-2001-Challenge-Saythen-Empire&p=153516)