View Full Version : April Entry: Islands in the endless streams

04-09-2008, 06:02 PM
"Islands in the endless streams
Harbour hopes and hazy dreams
Of lost and lonely lovers' schemes,
Soaring with the seabird's screams."

Hi all. Thought I'd get myself started with a stab at the challenge. For all that I've always loved maps, I think coastlines and islands have a special magic above all other maps, so this challenge really intrigued me.

I have no particular ability in this area, so this might wander a bit, but since I'm doing something new I thought I'd do everything new! Rather than a treasure map, or a 'here be dragon's' map, I'm trying to create a map for a secret assignation. Two lovers seperated by a churning sea, two countries seperated by the fires of war. A Prince and Princess who were to be married, but when treaties break down they are forbidden to meet again. A secret note from a man to his love, telling her where to sail so that they may be together again. De dum de dum de dah...

Because this is all new, I'm starting by shamelessly filching from some of the great tutorials on the site (or linked to it). So far I've followed the 'how to make paper' tutorial, after that I'm going to read a few coastline type tutorials, and we'll see how it goes. Comments are utterly welcome - I'm very new to this and have virtually no ego to bruise, so let me know what you think8)

Tying it all together is the poem, giving clues to follow on the map. And because we're being new, this will be written in a metre that I've never used before (and am finding bloody difficult to be frank). If anyone wants to know more about the rhyme structure (hey, you never know!), I can expand on it a little. But for now, here is stage 1, 'paper made in photoshop' (assuming I've figured out how to link stuff:D)

04-09-2008, 07:07 PM
brilliant concept! I was hoping that people would have an individual take to this challenge.

04-09-2008, 09:18 PM
I like it so far!

I think for battered and over folded paper its too complete. My suggestion is do the rest of your map and then 'tear' away some of the paper edges.


04-10-2008, 01:18 AM
Very clever concept indeed, brilliant, can't wait to see the end result!!!

04-10-2008, 12:12 PM
I like it so far!

I think for battered and over folded paper its too complete. My suggestion is do the rest of your map and then 'tear' away some of the paper edges.


I disagree. Well not completely. More wear and tear wouldn't hurt it, I just don't think it's necessary. A letter, lovingly crafted and folded into a pouch before being sealed and handed to a trusted messenger. The messenger promised not to break the seal and he is a man of his word. The letter isn't handled, so it doesn't lose pieces, but the vagaries of a hard sea voyage and months of secretive overland travel take their toll. Even sealed safely in it's pouch, the letter bears the marks of it's travels. Salty spray from innumerable vicious storms have drenched the paper. The sand and heat of a desert passage have dried and dusted its surface. Along with the courageous messenger it has slogged through the mud of swamps(and it has been moistened by the messenger's sweat as he lay in delirious fever). They have slept together in cold leaky haylofts, and run together from farmers bearing pitchforks and Royal Guardians bearing sabers. All to finally swim across a fecatory moat into the Princess' Palace to deliver his precious burden.

04-10-2008, 01:43 PM

I have to admit, su_liam, you've pretty much nailed the response I was going to give. The chart has been through a lot to get to it's destination, but it's been looked after as well as possible in the circumstances. Kind of like the letters Cyrano ran through enemy lines so that they could reach Roxane.

At the same time you're definitely making this trip sound a bit more hazardous than even I had imagined! I haven't made provisions for a desert, and though there is a swamp, I hadn't realised that it would make the messenger quite so ill. Poor bloke doesn't even have a name yet! I hope he recovered properly before trying to swim that fecatory swamp (and does that word mean what I think it means? You'd think the sanitation in royal castles would have evolved past the 'chucking it out of the window' stage...)

04-10-2008, 04:20 PM
At the same time you're definitely making this trip sound a bit more hazardous than even I had imagined! I haven't made provisions for a desert, and though there is a swamp, I hadn't realised that it would make the messenger quite so ill.

Well, of course, our Prince planned a less hazardous route for his Princess. The Messenger, too, would not have chosen so hazardous a route. He had no power to decide where the currents might drive him after his schooner foundered in the storm. Added a bit to the journey.

Poor bloke doesn't even have a name yet! I hope he recovered properly before trying to swim that fecatory swamp (and does that word mean what I think it means? You'd think the sanitation in royal castles would have evolved past the 'chucking it out of the window' stage...)

I can't find fecatory or fecuid in the dictionary, so I guess we'll have to go with feculent. And, yeah, it means what you think. I'm assuming this is a normal fantasy world with a technological level somewhere in the King Arthur to Pirates of the Caribbean range. Magic might make a difference, but why waste precious manna on something only the serfs will smell?

04-16-2008, 05:36 PM
okay, finally time for a little update. I've been on duty all weekend so no real chance to work on the map, but I have managed to get the poem/riddle pretty much sorted. Just a little polishing needed:D

So with the layout coming together, I spent tonight trying to add a few coastlines to my parchment, just to see how it feels. Attached is the result so far - I think the layout will be pretty much this, but I might change the style. I'm fairly happy with it but I need to see it with place names on etc before I decide if this is the way I'm going. (Thank god it's a monthly challenge not a weekly one!)

Anyway, not sure if it's considered poor form to solicit advice on challenge maps, but if not feel free to tell me what I ought to do!

More to come over the weekend since I'm not working this time (yay

04-16-2008, 08:38 PM
Solicit away! (never though I'd say that in public)...

I like the look and want to know where you are going with it... The little clusters of islands seems to be telling me something, but what, I can not say... :)

-Rob A>

04-17-2008, 12:25 PM
Well, I was mainly going to ask for opinions on the coastal style, whether the shading lines work or if maybe for a plain, battered map like this I should go for something simpler.

But looking at it today, after a night's sleep, I actually feel better about it than I did before, so I think I'll keep to this style.

Once I've got the last few island layouts sorted I'll then need to consider fonts, and then whether the map will bear a few landscape marks (hills, mountains etc - I promised a swamp and I'd also like to get in that desert of su-liam's!), and then finally whether to just touch it witha hint of colour. But TBH, all of that is the funstuff compared with polishing off the bleedin' poem. Back to the grindstone...

EDIT - just got back from work, and on my way out to see friends. Thought I'd post the result of last night's session - moved a few islands around, deleted some, added others. Put on most of the island names, still need to finish one small cluster and then all the mainland names. The test will be faded and blended to match the rest of the map once it's all finished....

### Latest WIP ###

04-19-2008, 03:40 PM
Well, I managed to finish off my list of island names, and also come up with names for the coastal towns (incidentally, I think I've managed to avoid repetition but if you spot one let me know!).

Spent the afternoon tinkering with town images, ended up making my own, not sure if I'm convinced but they'll be easy enough to change if I come up with something better. Might tone down the colours a little on these....

Starting to feel like it's coming to life now, but because it's a bit cluttered I'm not sure if it will tolerate more detail like roads or landscape marks. We'll see.

If you're wondering, the blank space at the top will house the Prince's hastily scribbled riddle, so I'm not going to fill it with other stuff.

Anyway, that's where we are up to now, here's the WIP

### Latest WIP ###

04-19-2008, 09:47 PM
Looking great.. I love the colors

04-23-2008, 01:54 PM
This is really a cool piece. It gives me an idea for a tutorial and the focus of a story on a map. Wouldn't it be tragic if the messenger got into a sword fight and the map was stabbed through by a thrust that ruined the exact location for the meeting? :((

04-23-2008, 04:42 PM
Ooh! I reeeeally like that idea, RP!!!

04-24-2008, 01:11 PM
The war was supposed to be over. After thirty years of bloodshed, thousands of men lying dead on the myriad beaches of the Straits of Moraebus, and who knows how many ships sunk or carried out into the Corlavon Ocean, they told us that it was finished.

The Argeans had agreed to a truce. Their great Emperor sailed out to Son Dian and shook hands with our King. Generals and Advisors broke bread together, complimented each other on their strategies, and carved up the Isles as due redress for all our wounds.

Our leaders were like old friends, putting past differences behind them. Our King introduced his son, a Prince of Cassolin already proved in war, now more than ready to work for peace. The Emperor revealed his daughter, slight but strong, with a beauty all but forgotten in these lands of smoke and tears. The two would be married, and together in harmony the two great dynasties would rule the known world, crossing oceans and deserts, conquering the mountains until all were granted the peace and joy that took root here on Son Dian.

But peace is too fragile a thing to be left in the grip of men of honour. The unbending will of a monarch can fan the smallest slight into fires of war before the ink dries on a treaty, and at the sound of clashing steel the delicate bloom of our hopes shrivelled to dust.

Blood was spilled, ships were launched, and armies sallied forth to reinstate the long siege of the Islands. But my Prince did not forget his betrothed. For all the hate he bore the Argean's Great Emperor, he could not discard the joy he had known in his short time on Son Dian. He knew that he could never be happy without this woman that fate had shown him, and in his heart he knew that she dreamed of him too.

Even as our fleets clashed at Fhelrhyn the Prince conceived a plan. Taking one of our charts, he hastily scribbled a note to his beloved, a riddle to guide her to a secret rendezvous. Folding the map tightly he pressed it into my hands and charged me with delivering it to his Princess in far off Pashnagur.

And so I set sail, beyond the noise of battle and thence towards the Argean coast. Many days have I spent prowling in enemy lands. I have skirted the Great Swamp of Heredia, and crossed the southern reach of the Keldaran Desert from Matrogur, but now I see the golden spires of Pashnagur rising in the distance, and my journey is nearly done.

Tonight I must enter the sanctum of the enemy, and find some way to deliver my Lord's message to his Princess. Perhaps together they will find a way to bring peace to us all...

Finally managed to get this done. Please note that this is not supposed to be a difficult riddle, but rather the sort of puzzle that a group of gamer's might figure out in order to lead them off in pursuit (or support) of the eloping Princess.

(If anyone actually needs to arrange a secret rendezvous with a beauteous Princess without her warmongering father finding out, I would strongly suggest using a cipher like delgondahntelius' Legend of Mata-Gara which had me scratching my head for days before I realised that I was never going to get it! Clearly the choice of the professional Princess plunderer:D )

Anyway, I digress. I've tested this out on a few friends, and am pleased to say that it appears to be solvable, but with perhaps a little work. Some people have come up with the wrong answer, but have felt that something was not quite right. Those who have reached the right answer seem to have then felt pretty certain that they were right, so I guess if it doesn't feel right it's time to look again. If there isn't a confident answer on here by tomorrow I'll try to get a text file up that explains all the steps...

So, for literally no prize at all, the question is, to which island should our Princess flee in order to meet her betrothed..?

### Latest WIP ###

04-24-2008, 01:55 PM
I like this one very much. I'll PM you my guess... I feel pretty sure about it !

Edit --
Dammit I was wrong. Being given a slight hint I can see the real answer now. When he says sure he means really sure. If you have any doubt then its probably wrong.
This is such a good puzzle as well as map. I'll slink away in humiliation now... :D

04-25-2008, 06:04 PM
Hehe - no need to slink away. I got a batch of emails from a few friends today and it turns out that my puzzle is perhaps harder than I intended. Only one of today's batch had got it right, and he's another vet so his mind's as twisted as mine!

Anyway, as promised I'll throw up a few clues, and a solution should anyone be interested...

04-25-2008, 06:05 PM
And since it only let me add 5 files to the post, here is the solution, and a final musing about the oddities of the world...