View Full Version : The Great Valley

11-13-2013, 03:59 AM
Hello Guildies,

After having finally decided to finish a map I start (something I am yet to do) I figured this would be a good place to keep a journal/record of my progress. Wasn't really sure which section to place this in as it will be a combination region/city map (or maybe two maps). There is no time limit on this though I do plan on finishing it. That's the main point of starting it. :)

Anyway, I wanted to move away from the regular world maps I mess with and decided to focus on a smaller region with a rather unique terrain (in terms of scale). After some brain storming I came up with the idea of a giant canyon or valley set within a very large high altitude stony desert (2500m). Flowing down the centre of the valley would be a large river with an average width of 2km. Flowing from the tributary canyons and valleys would be smaller rivers and streams. Finally, a large empire/kingdom would stretch down the valley. I have yet to decide if the states/provinces will be able to span from valley wall to valley wall (across the river) or if they will be limited to one side of the river (by imperial/royal decree).

Here's what I've done so far;




Colours aren't final and there is still a lot to do. Any comments and suggestions would be appreciated.

11-13-2013, 11:22 PM
I really love this idea and execution so far; how exactly did you do that bottom map - Wilbur? I would love to know how you achieved that look.

11-13-2013, 11:43 PM
I really love this idea and execution so far; how exactly did you do that bottom map - Wilbur? I would love to know how you achieved that look.

I think it's just an enlarged closeup of the area re-run through wilbur.

11-14-2013, 12:20 AM
The first two images are made solely in Wilbur. The third is a composition of various layers in GIMP but all of the height info is also generated in Wilbur. Basically, I did 50 passes of 'precipiton erosion' to image two before resizing it. Included is a lot of manual editing to ensure that river flow looks 'pleasing'.

11-14-2013, 11:59 PM
I really must think about getting Wilbur...

11-17-2013, 11:31 AM
Okay, I've now finished the topology and river placement. I'm still trying to find a style for forests that will work well and I'm not happy with the colours but they will do for the time being. The current border is just a bit of silliness that I added as a means of limiting the vast open spaces of the desert plateau. I re-exported the data at 5000x5000 px so as I'd have a bit more freedom to work. I'm currently toying with the idea of rotating the map about 45 deg cw and having a 'landscape' layout.

I'd really appreciate suggestions for a forest style if that would be possible.


11-29-2013, 04:55 AM
Would a civilization located on the banks of a river that is 2.5 km wide have ferries (with permanent landings) or would it just have shipping lanes? Is there really much of a difference and would they have to be shown either way?

11-29-2013, 07:08 AM
Ferry routes are often indicated as they function as a road of sorts. Without bridges or sufficient bridges for the flow of traffic it would be certain to have ferries. It would also have shipping without a doubt. Shipping channels are not likely to be indicated in anything but a nautical map, and even then all they indicate is the safe part of the river in terms of bottom clearance. There would also be dredgers, water taxis, fishermen, people living on boats etc. Think Hong Kong. I say this because it seems to me that the river would be the center of their life and civilization given he otherwise remote appearance of your location. They would directly rely on it and also on cities farther down the river.

11-29-2013, 08:02 AM
@ Falconius

That's pretty much what I was thinking. The majority of the civilization will be reliant on The River (as apt a name as any). Those living further from the banks less so, though it would still remain the major form of long distance transport.

I understand your point about ferry routes being shown as they are integral to transport and considering that I am showing roads I should probably include said ferry routes. My main concern is that as things are now The River has a width of 4-5 pixels (2-2.5 km). This doesn't really leave much room for the depiction of ferry routes. I seem to have the option to either increase the resolution of my map (already 5200x2800) or leave out river traffic routes and only include them in zoomed maps for particular areas (capitals and what-not).

11-30-2013, 10:29 AM
Ah I assumed you were dealing on a different scale mistakenly. For some reason I though you'd have it down to city scale. I think river routes can be assumed on a region map of this size, or alternatively you can list the routes in a table on the the side.

11-30-2013, 10:08 PM
Trying to decide on a name. A few potentials are;

- The Empire of the River Dragon
- The Crocodile Empire
- The Empire of The River

I envision a throne room with a crocodile theme. Actually a lot of the symbolism for the empire would be animals of the river (region in general?) with a lot of crocodiles everywhere.

It's times like these that I really wish I had artistic abilities. I have an image in my head of a giant stuffed crocodile (8+ metres) being used as a throne. I can clearly see the head looming down over the emperor or empress (what's a gender-less term for the leader of an empire?)

12-01-2013, 01:25 AM
I have been told that the hippopotamus is a far more fearsome and dangerous animal than a mere crocodile.

12-02-2013, 02:06 AM
Well here's the latest update. I wasn't lying when I said I wouldn't be rushing this.

Anyway, still an awful lot to be done. I spent too much time on the border and I'm not really all that happy with it now.

I'm having real difficulty including all the info I want and I'm considering bumping up the resolution but I'm not sure how my PC or The GIMP will deal with it.


Well, I just had to re-export my map as a lower quality jpg to be able to upload it. If I increase the map's resolution such issues will be even greater.

As a note I'm doing most of the work in Inkscape. Layers are compiled in GIMP as it seems to be a bit more responsive with large images.

12-04-2013, 07:30 PM
I had the idea that the people of The River would use Junk style boats for transport. Then I was thinking of a form of paddle steamer. Now I am thinking of a steam powered paddle junk. Does anyone know if they ever actually existed and where to get pics? My google skills seem to suck. If my drawing skills were better I might try and design one myself.

Considering that The River has nasty denizens such as 8+ metre crocodiles and fresh-water sharks would the boats be equipped with mounted harpoon guns?

12-04-2013, 09:56 PM
If I'm not mistaken the advantage of a junk is that it is cheap and also sea going. Assuming this river does reach the sea at some point I'd imagine there might be a few seagoing vessels for whatever reason, but by far the vast majority would be river boats with a shallow draft. Flat bottomed boats, Mississippi steam boats, barges, etc. The advantage is that you could make them above the water be whatever you really wanted within reason. If you wanted to have a bunch of floating castle/palace type things you could have that too. The likely hood is that most boats wouldn't have anything more than maybe a rifle or crossbow depending on your era. Possibly some long pointy sticks too... Most people wouldn't bother with anything specifically for these beasts they'd just stay the hell out of the water. Hunting and fishing vessels would be the exception and depending if those beasties are their game or not would have appropriate equipment. Honestly I doubt even military vessels would have stuff geared in that direction, they'd have sea to land and sea to sea weapons for dealing with ships and forces near the river. Unless of course you want the people of your river to be gun crazy hunting nuts, it's your world after all, but then the river would probably not have many 8 meter crocs in it anymore either.

Are those lines roads running beside your river? Or are they canals, they look kind of blueish to me? If they were roads I'd expect them to be laid out in a more practical and lazy manner and not follow the river all that closely. If they are canals then they completed one hell of a mega project but I'm not sure I'm understanding their purpose here? What does the hatching at either end of the map indicate?

12-04-2013, 11:05 PM
@ Falconius

My reason for choosing a junk was purely that I like the look of them. However my main goal is a river going society with many thousands of paddle steamers and sail boats. The need/ability to reach the sea (thousands of kilometres away) is lacking as the Empire is stuck between two hostile powers (those hatched areas at either edge of the map).

Those lines running along-side the river are roads. I can't even begin to imagine the work involved in creating such an extensive system of canals. The colours aren't final (they were supposed to be dark grey). The thing to remember is that the map has a scale of 2 px = 1 km. So within the space of that road there is plenty of room for lazy/practical meanderings. At first I wasn't going to bother with a road system following the river banks but when I started considering the society I came up with the idea that they are all rather keen on the idea of personal freedoms one of which is freedom of travel. The river is a great means of travel for the wealthy but probably not the poor. Besides there will be some cargo which is impractical to transport via water.

12-05-2013, 12:09 AM
I agree, junks are pretty cool looking, but there is nothing preventing flat bottomed boats to have that same atmosphere or look to them.

Yeah the scale of this really keeps throwing me for a loop. The section of river there is thousands of kilometers long so it is really unfamiliar. Still I would expect roads to have more of a presence in the mid distance between the river and the cliffs since at that location there would be more of a need for them. That said, roads would also probably naturally develop along the river too. I assume there is something preventing them from building roads in the desert? There are a couple of places that would be really useful for them to build through, maybe with covered roads even (another mega project though heh)? Or even if they just ran tracks across the desert like they do for snow roads in North America. With steam power available have you considered rails at all? Railways lead directly to the waning of canals importance after all.

Just how high are those cliffs anyways? Given the rest of the scale in the map it gives me the impression of enormity.

12-05-2013, 01:49 AM
Having done some reading since my last response I've since come to the conclusion (as you already stated) that flat bottomed river boats can look like pretty much anything. I've given some thought to designing a junk style river boat but my skills don't lie in 2D, but rather 3D and I don't really wish to spend the next few months modelling a boat for one map (I'm so lazy). I'm also considering some immense floating fortresses for the Imperial Navy.

Be assured that there will definitely be roads closer to the mountains (further from the river). Currently they aren't finished so I haven't included them in the uploaded map. To be more specific there will be an Imperial Highway (raised and guttered, possibly cobbled) that generally follows the river bank. A few shorter Imperial Highways will cross dividing mountains with tunnels cutting through the mountain tops. I'm still considering the issue of railways and whether or not they would be practical.

The desert sits at an altitude of 2-2.5 km and is extremely inhospitable to humans (most life). The back story is that the Burning Lands are littered with a mineral that is extremely reactive with oxygen (causing explosions and fires). Consequently people avoid the high altitudes and travel through the Burning Lands is almost impossible. The people being rather clever have figured out how to collect/mine the mineral and use it for the fuel for their steam engines (to explosive for internal combustion engines with-out refining). Actually many products can be produced from/with it after refining and processing. For example, fertilisers, anti-biotics and potentially fuel (they haven't figured out internal combustion engines yet).

Given all of the above and the fact that the civilization in question will be 5000+ years old I'm imagining a very large population and population density. One of the things that has prevented them from stagnating (too much) is the constant threat of invasion from the hostile nations both up and down the valley.

Those enemies up-valley are fellow humans that are pretty much deranged from constant exposure to unrefined Fire-Ore (a place-holder name) as well as limited ingestion. Their working name is Fire-Eaters.

Those enemies down-valley are a type of sentient, tool-using crab with an aggressively expansionistic society. To make matters worse, they will eat almost anything (including people). Constant skirmishes ensue between them and The Empire but things are almost at a stand still. The Empire can't push the Crabs back as they have incredible numbers and resilience and the Crabs can't push any further up the valley as they are tied to the salt-water of the sea for reproduction. Recent reports indicate that the Crabs may be trying to create salt-water breeding ponds which has The Empire rather worried.

Hmm, I hope that's not too much back-story. I don't want to bore people or anything.