View Full Version : A map or two from a new member

05-09-2008, 11:47 PM
Hi all,

I've been reading the forums here for a while and decided to finally register and post a map or two that I'm working on. Adulation is nice; constructive criticism is good, too!

The first is a major island I'm working on for an RPG campaign. The island will probably be the center of the campaign. There are a lot of things yet to work on, but it's at least very close to what the final map will look like. The full-size map is too big for an attachment here, so I've also included the second map, which is a thumbnail showing what the full-sized map's details look like: settlements, roads, ruins, etc.

05-10-2008, 12:25 AM
Looks nice, but would like to see higher size/res versions to be able to a more detailed view.

05-10-2008, 01:59 AM
Okay, here's a crop of the center-south of the island, including the thumbnail above. (As I mentioned, I can't post the entire map at native resolution, because it's too large for an attachment here and I don't really want to post it anywhere else.)

05-10-2008, 08:32 AM
Great map, I rather like the look of it, like it's a satellite image.

I do think all those settlements seem to be distributed a bit too regular on the available land. It seems they all have roughly the same distance to the neighbouring villages, which looks a bit unrealistic. IMHO. I'm wondering if you did so intentional?

The mountainrange is awesome, btw, great work :)

05-10-2008, 09:17 AM
Thanks for the comments!

I'm aiming for the feel of a satellite image (at least for terrain), so your first comment is great to hear.

I think the settlements aren't all that regularly distributed. They lie a certain average away from each other, true, but the actual distances vary by quite a bit. I suppose I should increase the density in the more central regions, though.

I think what may make it look too regular is the roads. I've been thinking that maybe I should make the road connections a bit more chaotic, but I can't really think of a rationale to do so. It seems like almost every medieval village is going to have roads to its nearby neighbors, right? But maybe the roads are too straight -- maybe I should introduce more twisty roads and paths to indicate unseen small streams, hills, etc.

The mountains are hard to do right. It's hard to remember how small the valleys get -- in other words, how much fractalization to put in.

Thanks again.

05-10-2008, 11:19 AM
Great mountains:D

The villages are laid out in too regular a grid. Even if the distance between them varies, they are still essentially on a grid pattern, and this is reinforced by the grid pattern of the roads.

In reality the villages would be more scattered around than this, and the road network would be optimised rather than laid out, ie a compromise would be made between the best connectivity (often an almost pure grid as seen in big newish cities like New York which have been designed rather than grown) and a system which uses the least amount of road necessary to include all villages (this usually large roads running through the landscape connecting large settlements, with smaller roads connecting smaller settlements to the trunk roads). Either extreme looks artificial, but for a medieval landscape you definitely want to avoid the 'designed' look, unless the area's history says otherwise. Keep in mind that many of the villages would have sprung up along the roads between larger settlements, with more outlying villages being less densely packed. Add in variation for landscape features (even in the lowlands not all land is desirable or usable, for a multitude of reasons) and hopefully you can create a layout that looks evolved and lived-in rather than designed.

Unless of course your fluff decrees that the current inhabitants only arrived 50 years ago and their pantheon is ruled by a god of geometry, in which case ignore everything I said.

But apart from that minor point, a lovely map, and even just the scale of the thing is impressive:D

05-10-2008, 09:33 PM
How would you folks suggest making the villages' distribution look more natural? Take some out? Put more in that are very close to others? It seems like just randomly moving them around wouldn't have the right effect -- some villages would be located far away from water sources, without enough cropland around them, etc.

05-10-2008, 09:59 PM
To Many

Its like the Borg are assimilating the map;)

Nice Maps keep on posting

05-10-2008, 10:08 PM
Well there is no right or wrong way to make anything on a "made up" map IMO... but I would start with looking at Google maps for a little while and see where we build out towns at... in terms of spacing and location.

There are a few factors when placing a town or city onto geography.

food/water sources
Population decadency
Time frame or technology level of the society
When the region was colonized... on said "time frame/tech tree"

If you have a society that is primitive and food is plentiful then there would be many small towns. This is one reason why there are so many small towns in the British Isles. If the population and tech level is higher then there is a congregation toward larger more spread out cities...

As in America the tech level and such lead to the colonies being based around larger cities near main ports for supply and so forth.

Of course there are many more things to consider but that should give you something to think about.

Note: If your map were based on a work fiction then some placement would be decided for you.

Something like this would be what I might do... this was quick so not perfect or a golden rule...



05-10-2008, 10:32 PM
As for the "too many" critique, I guess I disagree. :) The number of villages is just about in line with what there should be, from my research. If anything, the density might be too low -- but I can't work with a map much larger than what it is now.

rpgmapmaker, I've done quite a bit of research for this project already. I know pretty well what the land conditions, history, resources, etc. of the regions mapped are. I'm working on the map concurrently with a conlang or two, a fairly detailed history, climatology, etc.

It's actually really hard to find maps of medieval Europe that show how villages were distributed. I've got a few books that show, say, a small valley and its villages, or the settlements around a given town, but nothing that shows a larger scale. Lots of maps show the distribution of towns and cities, but few actually show smaller villages. (Then again, I'm not that great at doing research. I'm sure there are avenues I've missed.) The closest I've found so far is some (http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~genmaps/genfiles/COU_Pages/ENG_pages/ntt.htm) maps (http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~genmaps/genfiles/COU_files/ENG/NTT/saxton-kip_ntt_1637.htm) of 17th century (http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~genmaps/genfiles/COU_files/ENG/NTT/blaeu_ntt_1665.html) Nottinghamshire (http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~genmaps/genfiles/COU_files/ENG/NTT/blome_ntt_1672.html). Certainly not the period I'm aiming for (I'm going for approximately Norman Invasion levels of technology), but at least pre-industrial. And, I have to say, the distribution of towns on my map looks very similar to what I'm seeing on those maps.

I don't think I understand the additions you made. Are the red dots cities and the yellow dots castles? Please explain. :)

05-11-2008, 12:10 AM
Thinking more about it, it still seems to me like the roads are the main problem. I didn't really design any major roads that lead from major settlement to major settlement, just minor roads that go from village to village, some of which incidentally happen to link up towns and cities. That feels like an area where I should put in some more work. It'd make it feel more naturalistic (at least to me) to put in major roads linking major settlements, then have more of the small paths be offshoots from those, rather than all roads being roughly equivalent. That would reduce the feel that all the roads are on a strict grid.

It doesn't necessarily match the history of the island -- there has never been a major conquering technological power with a love of straight stone roads, unlike England had with the Romans -- but still, major settlements are likely to be connected by larger, more solidly built roads.

05-11-2008, 12:17 AM
Keep in mind that a road doesn't necessarily have to be "built." "The path is made by walking upon it," as the philosopher said.

05-11-2008, 08:29 AM
Okay... sorry for not explaining more. The red dots are Cities and the yellow dots are towns. But I do not disagree with you that there will be that many "small" villages in the world you have made. I do not have any real knowledge of the makeup of its population and such... but I think the majority of the "you need less" comments are based mostly on the scale and style of the map.

Also I agree that the roads give the world a "Borg" take over feel... and you are right that they should be focused on travel between the larger cities. each road should "hit" as many places as posible on its path.

Based on the scale of the map the roads to the villages (as well as the villages themselves) do not need to be shown on the main map.

Every map has a reason for being... some show overall land shape and general information, some elevation and topography, while others are a closer look at the human element. I think you might be trying to show too much in the same map... notice that in your own explanation of the map you neutrally saw the need to give several different zoom levels... and that is how a world of this depth should be presented. Here is a "quick" example of what I mean:


Again this is my opinion and more for ascetic purposes than informational... as you may have "game play" or other reasons for wanting to document where all the villages are on one map. I do not claim to be an expertů this is just my two cents.

P.S. please just know that it really is meant to be a castle layout in the lower window... hehehe


05-12-2008, 10:17 AM
Interesting conversation here! I've learned lots from the back and forth--and how nice we can all have an intellectual discussion about this important feature of fantasy cartography, learning from one anothers' expertise. Good job to all. Stop by my office & I'll distribute your gold star to you in person, as well as a laurel and hardy handshake.

05-12-2008, 11:10 AM
Ha - "Kingdom of Template".

Like that :)

-Rob A>

05-14-2008, 06:18 PM
I think that you are right in the density of the villages, and their general placement, however, I do agree that it does clutter the map. Generally, what I do is show cities and towns, and leave off the small villages and the trails that lead to them. If I did place the villages, I would only place the ones that have services for outsiders such as an inn or blacksmith. Most villages would not have an inn, and only every other one would have a blacksmith.

05-15-2008, 12:48 AM
My problem and its solution comes from three requirements:
I want to show the entire island, down to the level of listing single villages. I want to be able to say the names of the villages PCs pass through, or villages they hear rumors from, or villages they were born in, without having to make them up on the spot. I want that level of detail pre-generated, not left to my (not so great) improv abilities.
I want to develop it all on a single map rather than dividing it into regions. I find that dividing by region leads to varied aesthetics and logic, as well as conflicts at the interstices, and I want the whole to be well integrated.
My computer only has two gigs of ram. :) I simply can't work in the GIMP with a map larger than about 6000x4000, and Inkscape is already grinding to a halt with all the layers and objects I have to use.
Given those limitations, I think the main resolution and level of detail works pretty well. (You're all viewing the 2400x1600 image full-size, right?) As I said, though, I plan to re-do a lot of the roads.

As for different levels of resolution, I have those. The top level is a world map that only shows (in terms of settlements) where the river valleys are, no actual town or city locations at all. The next level down is the entire island (and other similarly-sized regions, but the island is the only one I've developed much so far). From there, it's down to sub-regions of the island; the big map I posted contains four or five of these. For the wiki, these sub-region maps are where villages and other single settlements will be indexed. (I do in fact want smaller sections of that large map to be one of the layers, but I still want to develop the whole at the full size. And, given the money and my employee discount, I hope to print the whole thing off at 36x48" or so, enough to show the single villages.)

05-16-2008, 04:44 PM
I guess another suggestion might be to have a "Public" layer, and have a "private" layer for the villages. Only put the larger, more important villages on the "Public" layer, and put the others on the "Private" layer, so that you can have all of the villages you want, but when you want to display the map in a more "artistic" manner, you could hide them.

Of course if you don't really care about displaying it in an artistic manner, then it doesn't matter.

05-17-2008, 06:23 AM
My problem and its solution comes from three requirements... (etc)

Thats basically a set of criteria for which I have been programming for a long time. It sounds like your taking some critical feedback for labeling all of the very small villages on a larger scale map. I think your issues are coming from trying to work at a single fixed scale because a large scale does not have enough space or detail to do it justice and a small scale uses too much memory. Take a look at this video and if thats interesting for you then you can mail me about it some more.

Link to Video (http://www.viewing.ltd.uk/Temp/VD_Demo1/VD_Demo1_xvid.avi)