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Rel
10-25-2008, 05:14 PM
Hi. I'm new here. The name is Rel and it's possible that you might know me as one of the moderators over at ENWorld. I'm putting together an idea for a new campaign and I could use a map. In the past I've always either drawn my own (poorly) or just grabbed a real world map that worked for the area. This time around the shape of the world is causing me some problems in trying to find something suitable. A google search brought me to this site and to say that I'm impressed with a lot of the work here is a considerable understatement.

Anyway, I'll copy the short blurb I wrote about the campaign's basic idea:


I've recently been reading some of the Ethshar books by Lawrence Watt-Evans (all of them are stand-alone, fun reads if you haven't read them) and one of them mentions "The Edge of the World". I was kind of intrigued by that idea as well as the region called "The Small Kingdoms" where there are a couple of hundred tiny kingdoms crammed into a relatively small geographic area. Each kingdom has its own laws and customs and, in some cases, language.

There is another book in my collection, this one by Larry Niven as part of his Known Space series, called A Gift From Earth about a planet colonized by humans. The trick with this place is that the entire planet was uninhabitable because of the very dense atmosphere, except for one VERY high plateau that sticks up high enough that the air there is breathable. It provides a habitable area roughly the size of California. They have a litteral edge to their world.

These ideas collided in my brain in a sort of "got chocolate in my peanut butter" kind of way that has me envisioning the following:

What if my world is like that where the habitable portion is up high enough that the air isn't poisonous. But instead of one big plateau, it is a series of smaller ones. Perhaps dozens or hundreds of smaller ones. Some of them comprise their own kingdoms and each has a different name. Some of them are big enough to be home to multiple kingdoms that may or may not be at peace with one another.

Not all are at the same height. Some are down in "The Mist" where the air is hot and thick. And they are not uninhabited because that is where "The Mist Demons" live. These are, literally, demons. Nobody is sure whether Tieflings are Mist Demons who discovered a way to survive at higher altitudes or if they are a species created when some of the Mist Demons bred with humanity. But they came from the lower altitudes of some of the habitable plateaus and they seem to have a higher tolerance for The Mist.

Higher plateaus have thin air and are colder. This is were the Dwarves hailed from. Most of their people still live up there "In The Thin" but some have migrated down to lower altitudes where their stout frames, adapted for the cold, serve them with extra toughness. There are plateaus even higher than the Dwarves can tolerate and that is where the Angels (some say even the Gods) dwell.

Transportation between plateaus happens in a lot of different ways. Some are connected by narrow land "bridges". Some of these bridges dip down into The Mist or arch up into The Thin where only those who are tough or have magical or alchemical assistance dare travel. Caravans move along these paths where they are often in jeopardy of attack from barbarians, monsters, Mist Demons or Drakes.

In other places the way to get from one plateau to another is by flying. Sometimes this is done with mounts like Wyverns or tamed Drakes. Sometimes on the backs of the enormous Mist Whales. In other places the Eladrin use their Winged Ships to sail across these expanses. In any event, it is a risky, dangerous business where one might come under attack from Sky Pirates, dangerous creatures or even be forced by a storm to land upon a normally uninhabitable plateau.

For the Kingdoms where magic is more prevalent, the Wizard's Guild maintains strict control over trade and travel by use of their Linked Portals (as per the Ritual). They take a very dim view of those who try and circumvent their Portals and have been known to burn Airships and Mounts for daring to challenge their monopoly.

For the average peasant the whole of their lives goes by without them ever setting foot upon another plateau. But for others, they dream of what lies beyond the horizon where the cliffs fall away into The Mist. Intrigues and exploration may take them to foreign plateaus or even those that have never been discovered at all. Legends tell of places far, far to the west where there are gigantic plateaus the size of a hundred Kingdoms where one can walk for weeks without ever leaving the same plateau. Could those legends be true? Perhaps the PC's will find out.

Hopefully you get the idea. Basically I'm looking for something fairly simple with a scattershot group of these "islands in the mist". Some of them would be larger (maybe a couple hundred miles across). Many would be smaller (a couple dozen miles across). Some would be tiny (less than a mile across). And they could be at different altitudes.

If anybody wants to take a crack at that I'd be incredibly grateful. And of course I'm more than happy to answer any questions you might have about the setting whether you want to do a map of it or not.

torstan
10-25-2008, 07:11 PM
Sounds interesting. Do you have a sketch - doesn't matter how rough - to give people an idea of the layout? Also, it's worth saying how much detail you need - b&w, greyscale or colour, number of labels - that sort of thing. It would help people get an idea of the amount of time it would take to do what you're after.

Rel
10-25-2008, 08:15 PM
Sounds interesting. Do you have a sketch - doesn't matter how rough - to give people an idea of the layout? Also, it's worth saying how much detail you need - b&w, greyscale or colour, number of labels - that sort of thing. It would help people get an idea of the amount of time it would take to do what you're after.

Thanks for the response. Sorry if I was too vague.

I don't have a sketch at this point. I've got some vague ideas in my head about a couple of political factions that I plan to have vying for control. But honestly, to this point, I've been hunting (unsuccessfully) for a random map generator that I could work from. So I'm not at all picky.

I guess what I had in mind was something I could start from and add some place names and other such data to as I developed things (other stuff I might add would maybe be altitude of a given plateau and whether it was civilized or "wild"). A black and white sketch with a couple dozen peaks poking out through the mists would be enough to get me started.

Does that make sense?

As I'm typing it, it almost sounds so simple that I'm wondering why I'm bothering you guys with it. ;)

RobA
10-25-2008, 11:06 PM
Sounds neat Rel!

Something like this? (sorry, render, not map :P)

7370

-Rob A>

Sigurd
10-25-2008, 11:54 PM
Sounds very Edgar Rice Burroughs.

There is an excellent pdf by Adamant Games... Franklin's Almanac Issue 1. It has a couple of flying prestige classes for a world of steampunk and gunpowder set in Atlas's Northern Crown setting.

Northern Crown died badly but this pdf is a lot of fun.


Do you have an idea of how high this elevation would be to stay above 'the mists'? How about surviving cities hidden inside of domes or dug deep into the rocks?


Sigurd - Like the idea.

Rel
10-26-2008, 12:59 AM
Sounds neat Rel!

Something like this? (sorry, render, not map :P)

7370

-Rob A>

Awesome! That's a great example of what I had in mind for an individual plateau cluster. Depending on size, something like that would be a single kingdom or collection of city-states (who may or may not be on good terms with one another).

Now if you had a couple dozen groups like that (mixed in with a few individual but larger plateaus) separated by distances from a couple miles to a hundred miles or more, that's what my campaign world would look like.

Rel
10-26-2008, 01:05 AM
Sounds very Edgar Rice Burroughs.

There is an excellent pdf by Adamant Games... Franklin's Almanac Issue 1. It has a couple of flying prestige classes for a world of steampunk and gunpowder set in Atlas's Northern Crown setting.

Northern Crown died badly but this pdf is a lot of fun.

Hmm...I might have to check that out. Although probably more for "fluff" than "crunch" since this is going to be a 4e game (and skirting away from the steampunk since my last campaign was more along those lines).



Do you have an idea of how high this elevation would be to stay above 'the mists'? How about surviving cities hidden inside of domes or dug deep into the rocks?


Sigurd - Like the idea.

As far as elevation, the real life examples are in Venezuela and they get up to around 3000 feet. I figure my fantasy versions can stand to range at least up to a mile, maybe a little more.

As far as surviving cities at lower altitudes, I am leaning more toward dug into caves than under domes. But I defiinitely like the idea. Maybe a place where some sort of other gases bubble out of a big lake and bond with the poisons in the Mist rendering it inert.

Big thanks to everybody here for being receptive to this request by a total newbie! You are all very generous.

Rel
10-26-2008, 01:15 AM
Just as a point of reference, the real life land feature that this is sort of based on is called a "tepui". Here is a map I copied from a tourist website:

http://www.circvsmaximvs.com/picture.php?albumid=19&pictureid=55

Sigurd
10-26-2008, 03:10 PM
So I have to ask. Is this a plateau above a wasteland or peaks above a poison sea? or .... How do you envisage these safe areas existing with the rest of the geography?

Is the poison fog Windblown? If so are spaces in the lea of mountains safer?

Is it generated by lowlands ? In which case are the leading edges of islands safer?

If this is all mountainous - how do they deal with water? Often, not a lot of land around a mountain that's usable. Plateau's can be limited or very far apart....

Just trying to work out the wrinkles in my own head....


Sigurd

Rel
10-26-2008, 04:05 PM
So I have to ask. Is this a plateau above a wasteland or peaks above a poison sea? or .... How do you envisage these safe areas existing with the rest of the geography?

These are all good questions. I've given it a bit of thought but, from the perspective of the civilized populace, the lowlands are very much a mystery. That's "Here There Be Dragons (and Mist Demons)" territory.


Is the poison fog Windblown? If so are spaces in the lea of mountains safer?

The fog is effected by tides a bit as well as weather patterns. I'd say that the lea of the mountains might be a bit safer in some areas but altitude is the primary safety feature from the toxins of The Mist. There are definitely low lying areas that can get swamped by The Mists when there is bad weather at "high tide". These areas are analagous to places like Florida or the Gulf Coast of the US where the coastline doesn't provide much protection against rising water.


Is it generated by lowlands ? In which case are the leading edges of islands safer?

The exact origins of The Mist are unknown. ;)
To be honest, I've not quite decided. Some friends I've been talking the idea over with have posed the idea that The Mist is a by-product of the use of Arcane Magic and that the rise of an empire of Wizards of late (who have solved the problem of transport by way of magical portals) is causing The Mist to rise.

One thing I should clarify about The Mist: It's not like cyanide gas or anything quite so dangerous. It is toxic over long periods and exposure for even a day is enough for weaker individuals to become sick. Eventually (in as short as a few days) it can be fatal. But exposure to small doses over a long period can also cause memory loss and mutation. And of course there is the hazard of the Mist Demons who can't live for long periods outside The Mist. (some think that the Mist Demons are humanoids who became mutated by The Mist - they may be right)


If this is all mountainous - how do they deal with water? Often, not a lot of land around a mountain that's usable. Plateau's can be limited or very far apart....

Yeah, I'd considered this as well. So far my answer is that the humid Mists of the lowlands cause the area to get a larger than average amount of rainfall. The flatter, larger plateaus have some sizable lakes (and some AMAZING waterfalls off the edges!). In places where water tends not to collect so easily, the inhabitants have dug large cisterns inside the mountains and plateaus. All that and a little GM handwaving makes the world habitable.


Just trying to work out the wrinkles in my own head....


Sigurd

Me too man. ;)

Sigurd
10-26-2008, 08:36 PM
I don't know if this is 'simple' - the full file is 480 meg in size :)

This is a attempt at the mountain peaks of an island\continent.

Tell me what you think. This is sized to fit on a Open Office page (18cm wide). The size is very much reduced. I'm planning on being able to put out full page maps of any of the inner islands etc...

Obviously the island below the mist level has to exist too. I'm less sure about that. I left this blank so you can write names, scale, etc... how you please.

I invite anyone who wants to try and rationalize the geology of this :). I think the lakes would never happen etc... but then this is fantasy :). Still anyone who wants to kibbitz is welcome. The islands are distinct and I like the one dead center that looks like a hippocampus. I'm thinking about expanding this for my game too.

Any crits or suggestions welcome - from anyone.


Sigurd

Sigurd
10-26-2008, 09:21 PM
This is the island I like - Don't know if its finished but hey.... I'm working to the Board file size limits. This is a full sized 18cm wide slice of the map. The finished work will be too big to simply post.

I have to get more memory. Need to learn about big picture file mapping.

Sigurd

Rel
10-26-2008, 10:31 PM
It looks fantastic! This is obviously something way, way more intricate and pretty than anything I'd be able to create.

I guess that if I were going to offer any suggestions about how to change it, I would say that I'm looking for the peaks protruding above the mists to be slightly smaller and a bit (but only a bit) more spread out. The basic look of it is great. But the individual land masses being smaller with more separations.

I say all of that with no concept of how easy or hard it is for you to make changes like that. I certainly don't wish to seem picky for somebody who came begging.

Sigurd
10-26-2008, 10:50 PM
The scale of the map is not set so come up with a size for a land mass you like and add a scale.


I'm guessing the continent is about as big as Germany but I haven't really thought it through. Feel free to shrink it to any size you like by changing the scale. All the little islands might be the tiniest of peaks and not reliably above the fog line.


I could take out islands if you wanted more distance between them.

We aim to please.

I can see how wider valleys might be more realistic. I think I need a better idea of the whole geography. I can move the mountain tops around but I have to try and reconstruct the island\continent completely and then add fog. I'm not really pleased with the height lines or the messy blue lake borders either.

There are many better, more knowledgeable mappers here. Lets give this 24 hrs for any other input. Maybe I can combine some good suggestions and avoid a revision or two.

Sigurd

Rel
10-27-2008, 11:24 AM
Thanks again for all your work to this point, Sigurd. As far as a scale goes, I think that if the image you posted above were about a thousand miles on a side that would be about right for what I envision. In an effort to try and crudely illustrate what I'm talking about in terms of the number and size of the land masses, I rather artlessly modified your version. Here is a low res version of my modification:

http://www.circvsmaximvs.com/picture.php?albumid=19&pictureid=138

With the thousand mile scale I mention above, that puts the bigger land masses at maybe 100ish miles across and the smaller ones a good bit smaller than that. I think that fits the scale of the world I'm after pretty well.

Obviously I'd love to hear any other thoughts that you or others have about any changes you'd recommend.

EDIT: Oh and, just to give a bit more territory to play with, I would be good with adding more such "islands in The Mist" in the southeast and northwest corners of the map to fill it out a bit.

Sigurd
10-27-2008, 12:35 PM
Your picture didn't come through.


Oh and, just to give a bit more territory to play with, I would be good with adding more such "islands in The Mist" in the southeast and northwest corners of the map to fill it out a bit.

You're a DM after my own heart. One of the problems with the plateau idea and normal mountains is that you're selecting away most of the land mass for playing. I'm beating on the believability to give you more islands, never mind that the valleys below them might be too shallow to let your poison fog sink.

Getting a better idea of the underlying geography\geology would make this better. Most mountains I can think of form on the edges of tectonic plates - that means long island ranges not thick ones. Even Volcanoes seem to be long irregular lines. I'm leaning to something like south america but that will probably mean your islands will be further apart and more lateral.

I game tomorrow and I have prep of my own, not to mention life :), I'll get back to this after Tuesday.

Sigurd

ps. I originally moved the islands around that way to give us room for a legend rule and rose in the lower right. :).

Rel
10-27-2008, 01:26 PM
Your picture didn't come through.

Hmm. I'm seeing it fine but I'm not sure if I'm doing it right. How do you guys host your maps and such?


You're a DM after my own heart. One of the problems with the plateau idea and normal mountains is that you're selecting away most of the land mass for playing. I'm beating on the believability to give you more islands, never mind that the valleys below them might be too shallow to let your poison fog sink.

Getting a better idea of the underlying geography\geology would make this better. Most mountains I can think of form on the edges of tectonic plates - that means long island ranges not thick ones. Even Volcanoes seem to be long irregular lines. I'm leaning to something like south america but that will probably mean your islands will be further apart and more lateral.

Yeah, I am somewhat afraid that I'm asking for a "sow's ear" from people used to making silk purses. :D Historically speaking, I've been more of a stickler for "realistic" land forms for my campaign worlds. This time around I'm focusing more on the outcome that I want (a few dozen tall plateaus that stick up at varying heights from who knows what sort of terrain below and all separated by valleys varying from short saddlebacks/land bridges to a hundred miles of lowlands) rather than how they got there.

I barely know jack about geology but I would tend to imagine that the real life tepuis got there more by erosion than by tectonic processes. Maybe that provides the explanation for how my plateaus got there. In fact maybe it's The Mist itself that ate away the surrounding lands.

One thing about The Mist and its behavior: I've been thinking of it less the way I would a normal mist as we know it and instead more like a liquid. The "Mist Level" is something that I think of more like "sea level". I mostly attribute this to the fact that it serves the geography that I want to depict. But a more physics friendly version may be that the poisons that make up The Mist are considerably heavier than air. Anyway, to me the effect of that property would be that it is less important what the underlying terrain is shaped like.


I game tomorrow and I have prep of my own, not to mention life :), I'll get back to this after Tuesday.

Sigurd

ps. I originally moved the islands around that way to give us room for a legend rule and rose in the lower right. :).

By all means, take care of first things first. I'm in no particular rush for this map anyway (campaign won't start for at least a month, probably longer.).

Sigurd
10-27-2008, 06:09 PM
So this is the idea. Taking South America as a model (The final may change completely).


1. The mountains are a wall along a fairly inhospitable coast. Fishing villages & small political structures (Barbarians, single villages etc....) with little wealth.

2. Tall mountains are mostly clean on the windward side and into the peaks.

3. Unexplainable and geologically unlikely plateau culture atop the mountains above the poisoned plains.

4. The poisoned jungles (Have to decide a temp range) exist in the lea of the mountain and stretch to the far coast. Nasties, demons, Morlocks etc... have their own mysteries on the poisoned plain.

5. The mountain culture is very old and likely taken refuge from an ancient history in the jungles down below. They have very little to do with the coastal barbarians on the windward side of the mountains.

Sigurd

Crudest of crude sketch to demonstrate.

MarkusTay
11-23-2008, 12:00 PM
Is this project still going on?

It seems like a really facinating concept for a world, and you've managed to alleviate most of the problems of 'Undersea' adventuring (I look at it as a regular world, full of islands like Earthsea, but instead of water you have 'the mists', which gives it creepy-cool Ravenloft thing going on).

In fact, you've managed to combine the best aspects of Underdark and undersea adventuring without all the hassles.

Rel
12-02-2008, 09:59 AM
This project is still very much ongoing. As a matter of fact, we played a "demo" session of this game last night. I didn't trot out the maps at that time but I've made a rather crude but workable modified version of Sigurd's earlier map where I used GIMP to break up the plateaus into smaller chunks.

I'm pleased to report that the flavor of the world came across rather well in the session last night.

If anybody here has further thoughts or contributions for maps then I welcome them.

Sigurd
12-02-2008, 02:25 PM
I'm still on board but I have been busy.


What's the reaction to moving the "Island Mountains" into a rough straight line (sort of like the mountains of South America). We can spread out the poison planes below. ie like the rough concept map above.

- Sigurd

I'm subscribed to this thread so if you post I'll know.