View Full Version : Question: When you design worlds...

06-17-2012, 06:46 PM
When you go and start designing a world to create a map of, how much worldbuilding do you usually partake into it before you feel inspired to design for it?

I ask this because I've been trying to design more lands and just do it to improve on my abilities and probably craft my own unique style. But when I do I always get caught up on "Why am I making this, is this just a blank slate you're creating with random names"

Maybe I'm doing too much worldbuilding recently on my actual medieval/fantasy story to have the ability to partake in the freedom of random mapping.

What do you think? Do you find a bit of worldbuilding important (like cultures, people, races, etc) when you design a world map or can you really just go at it without giving a second thought about it?

06-17-2012, 07:00 PM
I am looking for conlicts and dynamics. If there is a random number of big island I try to quickly think up some cultures. And than others and than conflicts. Its like playing chess with a map and name taggs.

06-17-2012, 07:03 PM
I am currently working on a map for someone else's world. If you are looking for a way to get practice without just feeling like you are creating a map of nothing, that might be a good way to go about it. Then it's at least FOR something or someone.

06-17-2012, 07:10 PM
If you are looking for a way to get practice without just feeling like you are creating a map of nothing, that might be a good way to go about it

Yeah I've offered my services here and there for people, though those that have got back to me have yet to send me a sketch or detail what they're looking for.

06-17-2012, 10:24 PM
It depends for me. Sometimes I like to create a random area and then as I'm building in the details cultures start to happen as I imagine what the "people" of this area or that would live like. Names are another thing because if you want them to be names of different cultures they need to have their own sound or else you don't have much cohesion within the areas. That can be hard.

06-17-2012, 11:23 PM
I don't really think about who lives there whenever I have made a map of a large piece of land. I just try to make it look as good as I can. It doesn't even matter if the names are random. I find that if I manage to make a map that I like to look at then I can think up who lives there later. If I don't like the way it looks I will throw it away and it won't matter who lives there.

Now dungeon maps is the exact opposite. I think of who lives there and design the dungeon around that. The high wizard of Kalor is going to live some place completely different than the warlord of Xar. I let the environment shape the people in a world map and the people shape the map in a building map.

06-18-2012, 12:18 AM
I recently came across a map of the Darkover world and it disturbed me...like so many such maps, it is a flat map with no indication of relative latitudes/longitudes, save for placing snow/ice. There is a North arrow, but making the distribution of some of the features match the supposed planetary axis, or, for that matter, the relative scale of the features (i.e., rivers, plains, ocean) to each other, is disconcerting to me. Hence, I've wanted to put together a class that introduces some of the basic features of the earth as a means to understand how features can best be distributed relative to one another. For example, climate zones, major wind patterns, ocean currents, etc. But to teach the class, I need a blank Mollweide grid...no continent outlines, just the grid, and I've had difficulties finding one. Anyone want to help me on this?

06-18-2012, 06:04 AM
I am working along the lines of Thessilian, most of my work just starts out as a doodling of a landmass and such, and then I refine it a bit more and try to make it better and better.
While I did some commissions for free a while bakc (that can be seen in my sig) I found that while it was a good way to learn new techniques, but often people wanted things that conflicted with what I feel is a natural world (like a continent made from half ice and half tropics and sutch, rivers going upwards because they did not originally think of topography and sutch) that it somehow felt "wrong" not to correct such..

On dungeon maps I do pretty mutch what Thesslian does.. design them with the inhabitants in mind.

06-18-2012, 09:46 AM
it's different for everyone, but it's what you do to feel comfortable... i mean if you feel that you are just placing things for no reason than to just place them.. try starting on the other end.. begin with thinking up a creation myth.. doesn't even need to be true, but a creation myth will give you ideas on how some things are formed... putting a story behind a geographic feature will give it a purpose, while giving it a legend you can use later in your cultures and such...

06-18-2012, 07:47 PM
i haven't settled on a map for the ideas i've been kicking around for several months. i think the factor i gravitate towards in fiction is what ideas are depicted to the audience. being polycultural (or more acultural at this stage) i am constantly intending to relate various foreign concepts to people.

my ultimate goal is to convert the entire population into arcology advocates so i can finally live somewhere really cool :lol:

06-19-2012, 12:29 PM
i tend to gravitate towards realism, or at least plausibility... i've never really made it far enough to get to deep into cultures.. but i do find myself always trying to figure out flora and fauna, a cities food requirements, or exactly where the damn water falls of of any given mountain (thank you GIS degree).. needless to say, i've yet to finish a world i've begun building :P