View Full Version : Show your skill in making a map after geographical and Fluff descriptions

02-26-2009, 01:38 PM
Hi there,

I wanted to suggest a mapping contest...i don't know if it needs to be a real monthly challenge you guys do...but i wanted to challenge the forum-members as a whole to provide a map for this world i will post descriptions to (the original descriptions are by j. snead, a game-writer who offered these ideas up on rpg-net). I hope this can be done, with or without being chosen as a real monthly-challenge. This would rock and deliver an fantasy world to be played with the nWod.

Ok, so here goes the descriptions (first the pure geographical descriptions he provided, and then, for those interested, the fluff aka history to the world)

P.S.: I still added a Poll, just in case you really want to do that as a real monthly challenge.

The Summer Empire covers an area of 2.4 million square miles and contains a population of more than 80 million people. It is bordered by the harsh steppe and taiga of The Wilds to the West and North , and by the Eastersea to the East and Southeast. South are mountains and desert, and on the other side of these is the League of Gatha a large civilized nation ruled by spirit-ridden priest-kings and queens. There is regular trade between the League of Gatha and the Summer Empire, but diplomatic relations are somewhat strained and visitors from one land are typically viewed with suspicion in the other.

The Summer Empire's geography is more like China (mostly flat) than Europe and so this influences the politics. The large mountain ranges are mostly near the edges. I am definitely assuming that there are huge tracts of forests as well as mountainous regions inside the Summer Empire, and both can be home to werewolves and all manner of wilderness spirits. However, the rest of it has been settled and under cultivation for many centuries.

Previously cut off by hostile packs of Uratha, now that the Empire of Night has fallen, the lands to the west of The Wilds are now open to trade and exploration. These lands are separated from the Wilds by a high mountain range, where a few vampire-ruled valleys have defied the efforts of the Uratha to remove them. Little is known about the lands beyond these mountains, but many fanciful stories of ancient ruins, lost cities, hidden mountain kingdoms ruled by powerful and immortal thaumaturges, and similar tales come from travelers to these lands, as do an unusual selection of treasures.

Across the Eastersea and the other Lands Beyond
Fearful of threatening their hegemony or of giving rebels another location to retreat to, the undead rulers of the Empire of Night strongly discouraged exploration beyond the borders of the Summer Empire. The vampires' hostility to the Uratha effectively closed The Wilds to the residents of the Empire of Night and the vampires did their best to limit exploration by sea. Since the fall of the Empire of Night, the treaty with the Uratha has opened The Wilds to limited travel, relations with the League of Gatha have gone from hostile to careful neutrality, and improvements in gliders, balloons, and ships have opened the Eastersea and archipelego known as The Lands Beyond to increasing exploration. 1,400 miles beyond the coast of the Summer Empire lies a vast archipelago where the islands range from small coral atolls and many similarly tiny islands to half a dozen islands, which range in size from 20,000 to 80,000 square miles. The eastern-most portion of this archipelago contains two island continents, one is a lush tropical jungle with which has a land area of 310,000 square miles, while the other is a more temperate land has a land area of 400,000 square miles. Almost all of the larger islands are inhabited and the large tropical island continent has a moderately advanced civilization with metalwork that is ruled by a semi-hereditary caste of magicians.

02-26-2009, 01:41 PM
And the fluff

The world is one of humans, with the addition of ghosts, spirits (both good and bad, including the spirit-ridden from Predators), vampires and Werewolves. Mages do not exist, but thaumaturgy is commonplace and professional thaumaturges of various sorts are common. Psychics are optional, and the rituals and Cultists of the Reality Bending Horrors chapter of Second Sight are a necessity.

The First Empire was ruled by ridden Priest Kings. This ancient and superstitious regime was eventually destroyed by a combination of a massive attack by the werewolves, combined with attacks by rival spirits and then the swift but brutal coup by the Vampires.

The Vampire-controlled Empire of Night ruled the settled lands from approximate 900 BP to 87 BP. The Vampires had previously be hidden, but large-scale urban growth during the First Empire, had both allowed their numbers to grow rapidly and had also allowed them to congregate in groups of up to a dozen and begin to plan. As the werewolves and spirits were destroying the outskirts of the First Empire, the Vampires, with their small armies of powerful ghouls and their previously secret ghoul bloodlines soon drove back the werewolves and then established their rule over the settled lands.

The Empire of Night
Humanity soon began plotting rebellion against undead overlords who both executed criminals by draining them of blood and who also regularly fed from their populace in a new and gruesome form of tax. However, vampiric rules was not without benefits technology advanced rapidly and the vampires encouraged sorcerers, who were off-course carefully controlled by Domination and Presence, to explore the limits of human magic. Because a large and healthy populace allowed for both the existence of more vampires and was more enjoyable to feed from, the vampires made a special effort to advance medicine and sanitation, and soon advanced plumbing and excellent sanitation were available in all but the smallest and most isolated communities. In addition, physicians were trained by vampires with literally hundreds of years of knowledge of blood, injury, and disease.

In addition to keeping order, fostering the growth of cities and commerce, and making deals with city spirits for streetlights and protection from fire, the vampires also placed a few strict limits on their mortal subjects. Dealing with ghosts was forbidden, only the vampires could deal with the dead. As was unlicensed traffic with spirits, werewolves, or the spirit-ridden. All of these became capital crimes, as did experimenting with gunpowder firearms.

The Rebellion
Although vampires were hideously vulnerable during the day, surrounded as they were by small armies of blood-bound ghouls addicted to their vitae made them exceedingly difficult targets. Planning the Rebellion took more than 40 years and only started in the aftermath of three discoveries. Vampires saw much use in firearms, especially for defending their empire against werewolves and the spirit-ridden. However, they were reluctant to embrace weapons that could be used to harm them. As a result, they encouraged the production of powerful, rapidly firing air guns, which had distinct advantages over gunpowder weapons, but did not require the use of fire and that were relatively harmless to vampires. However, secret research on cannon and gunpowder firearms continued and eventually resulted in flamethrower rounds and incendiary grenades. At the same time, research on thaumaturgy continued and thaumaturges finally found a way to use their magics to protect against Vampire Disciplines they were helped in this by a few members of the ghoul bloodlines (dhampirs) who were immune to vampiric control and wished to help overthrow their rule. Finally, shamans and bokor learned to make special deals with spirits, and especially with ghosts (including the ghosts of those murdered by vampires, who were eager for revenge).

Although knowledge of this was kept secret from the public, one of the key events leading up to the rebellion was its discovery by the Vampire Lord of Varnak. This vampire was one of the eldest of the vampires, who dated from the days of the formation of the Empire of Night. This vampire believed that the other vampires had grown decadent and careless and was also eager to eliminate most of its rivals and to bring most of the remainder under control. In part, it aided the rebels because it knew that the other vampires were plotting against it. Thinking it aged and outmoded, they planned to slay it and divide up Varnak between its two neighboring kingdoms. In return for a promise that the rebels would leave Varnak alone, it aided the rebels with its ghouls and its potent disciplines.

In 167 BP, half an hour before sunrise on the Summer Solstice, the rebellion began. The vampires were attacked as they were getting ready to flee the sun, and after the sun rose, the longest day of the year was host to pitched battles between humans and their dhampir allies against the armies of loyal dhampirs, ghouls, blood-addicted thaumaturges and soldiers, and other loyal subjects. Massive aid by allied spirits and hordes of angry and hungry ghosts, combined with incendiary ammunition and protective magics turned the tide and all but a handful of the vampires were slain throughout the empire. The survivors fled, some into the wilderness, others into the surviving kingdom of Varnak, where they were offered the grim choice of being refused entry or blood-bonding themselves to this land's lord. A few of these refugees managed to set up small kingdoms in isolated and easily-defended mountain villages, but most died the final death. Today, Varnak remains the sole-vampire controlled kingdom, with the exception of a few small settlements on the edges of civilization ruled by vampire refugees.

Recent History
Raids by ghouls and occasionally vampires continue on the borders, as do raids by werewolves and barbarian tribes lead by spirit-ridden leaders. However, the lands of the Summer Empire (as it is now called) are relatively secure. Since the Rebellion, the various nations have become somewhat less closely tied together, and while they still have pacts of free trade and mutual defense, they are no longer under the same unified rule as when the vampires ruled. Also, while the various branches of thaumaturgy is now licensed only in the way that any other Guild is, people fear both hostile magic and also the mad cultists who seek out strange and reality-twisting rituals to honor their foul patrons. To keep order, there is a police force that regularly employs thaumaturges in its attempts to hunt down cultists, rogue thaumaturges, vampires, ghouls, and the spirit-ridden.

Because of their essential role in the rebellion, dhampirs are tolerated, but their distinctive appearance, combined with their connection to vampires has caused most people to view them with suspicion and occasional dread. They are full members of society, but prejudice is not uncommon.

Because the Empire of Night was ruled by a few noble vampiric bloodlines, the entire concept of hereditary rule and inherited aristocracy has fallen out of favor. As a result, the Summer Empire is fiercely republican and consists of a patchwork of small republics ranging from ones where franchise is open to everyone, to lands where only wealthy landowners or business owners can vote. There are even two elective monarchies, but for the moment, at least hereditary leadership is not considered an acceptable form of government.

The growing power of the merchant classes and the continuing exploration of the world has had a major impact on government. Wealthy merchant adventurers are lionized both because of the excitement generated by tales of distant lands and the general preference for individuals who make their own fortune over hereditary wealth, which reminds people too much of the vampires who used to rule them. While the hatred of both hereditary wealth and aristocracy are fading now that that several generations have passed since the fall of the Empire of Night, the memories of the old and the continued presence of the isolated, vampire-ruled kingdom of Varnak reminds younger people of the dangers of both institutions. Nevertheless, there is evidence of a nascent aristocratic revival in several nations within the Summer Empire. In addition, the corruption and demagoguery of the current government has some longing for the tales of stability they heard about the Empire of Night and so ghouls from Varnak are in the process of recruiting followers.

The Empire of Night allowed complete religious freedom, except that worship of Lyral, the Sun Goddess was suppressed for obvious reasons and was replaced by her brother, Tyan, the Night King. In the Empire of Night, worship of Tyan, who was the patron of the vampires, was one of the two dominant faiths the other being an elemental religion that worshipped the Burning Woman, the Mermaid, the Bird Boy, and the Earth Lord. In addition, there were a multitude of small and highly secret mystery cults for urban sophisticates, mostly involving the worship of spirits, where the cult takes a spirit as their totem and well as similar rural cults that appeal to farmers and similarly humble folk and so are regarded as vastly inferior to the mystery cults. Both were illegal because the vampires feared humans making deals with spirits. Membership was punishable by death, although most rural cults were easily ignored. Both the urban and the rural mystery cults greatly aided the Rebellion, as did the secret but still popular cult of Lyral.


02-26-2009, 01:42 PM
aaaand the rest of it...sorry, it is loong :shock:

In the aftermath of the Rebellion, the worship of Tyan is banned throughout the Summer Empire and the secret cult of Lyral has been reborn as Lyral Sun Lady and Vampire Bane. Lyral has also now become the primary goddess of the Summer Empire, who is aided and served by her four elemental allies, the Burning Woman, the Mermaid, the Bird Boy, and the Earth Lord. Everyone is expected to honor Lyral, especially on the public holidays. However, mystery cults remain strong and are more popular than ever now that they are no longer forbidden. Also, many people worship only one (or more) of the four elemental deities and only honor Lyral in the public ceremonies, just as others revere Lyral and ignore the four elemental deities.

Ancestor worship is also possible, but it is usually a private family matter, with family altars similar to those used in Chinese folk-religion. Occasionally Vodoun are called into the assist with problems or to communicate with the deceased. Ghosts can also be summoned in cases of murder, but the testimony of a ghost is not considered sufficient grounds to convict someone, merely as strong evidence in that regard. Being a ghost is not considered a religiously desirable state by anyone but the members a few eccentric mystery cults. The orthodox view is that ghosts need to resolve the problems keeping them bound to the mortal world and move on to their next life (as promised by the priests of Lyral) or heavenly reward (as promised by many mystery cults).

Magicians in Society
Magic is in common use and Thaumaturgy is the same as in Second Sight, except that there are no penalties for disbelief belief in magic is universal. However, the spiritual basis of many traditions is different Taoism, and Vodoun do not exist are faiths. Instead, each magical tradition is aware of the others and they are all considered to per performing different sorts of magic.

Ceremonial Magician, Hedge Witch, Shaman, Alchemists and Vodoun are openly welcome within the Summer Empire. Apostle of the Dark One exist, but are officially forbidden. Ceremonial Magicians and Alchemists are both highly respected and relatively lucrative professions. Creating wardings is a vital urban service and Luck Magic is always in high demand. Shamans are equally important, but are eccentric enough to be considered useful outsiders and not pillars of the community. However, some of them attain high status by becoming the leaders of mystery cults. Because many people distrust the powers of Hedge Witches, they are viewed as somewhat disreputable. Being a Vodoun is considered a respectable profession, but not as high status as Ceremonial Magic or Alchemy. They make most of their money on exorcisms, but are also widely in demand by people who practice ancestor worship or to help officials solve important crimes.

The Wilds and the Uratha
The Summer Empire is surrounded to the North and West by vast stretches of sparsely inhabited wilderness known as The Wilds. Various tribal peoples live there, and the area is dominated by the packs of the Uratha. The Uratha also inhabit some of the larger forests and other wilderness areas inside the Summer Empire. The presence of both the Uratha packs and the fact that many of the tribal peoples have allegiances with potent totem spirits, and are occasionally are ruled by powerful spirit-ridden has largely halted expansion into The Wilds. Since the Wilds are also relatively harsh land that is less suitable for farming than the lands of the Summer Empire, there is little incentive for expansion.

Almost all of the citizens of the Summer Empire fear werewolves and wish to have nothing to do with them, the leaders of most of the nations of the Summer Empire understand that the Uratha help protect the world against predatory spirits, and everyone is vividly aware of the danger posed by these inhuman beings. As a result, the Summer Empire has an uneasy truce with the Uratha living in the wilderness areas in and around Empire land. Killing one of the Uratha, except when defending yourself or another is a crime. However, Uratha who kill a human who did not attempt to harm them first are punished by the Uratha.

The leaders of the Summer Empire are far from happy with this arrangement, but find it the least problematic option. The only time that Uratha and humans come into regular contact is when the Uratha arrive or are called to deal with a werewolf that has just undergone its First Change in civilized lands. Given that there is no shortage of traces of wolf-blood among the peasantry and even among some urbanites, occasionally one of the Uratha undergoes the first change in a village, town or city. At this point, a messenger is dispatched to the nearest Locus known to be claimed by a Uratha pack. Then, the pack sends a pair of envoys wearing special clothing to collect the new werewolf. Uratha envoys who kill or seriously harm humans who have not attacked them first are killed by escort of nervous guards that accompany them through human lands.

02-26-2009, 08:10 PM
This looks like the truest version of a challenge that exists for professionals...take someone's description of their world and make a map for it. Honestly, I think it's a great idea to push us all to do something that a pro might do rather than how I (and I assume many others) just do up something random in order to experiment with techniques and styles. I'd like to see 50 or more entries for this just to give us all a bit of pro-style experience if for no other reason than to justify to our own selves that we can do it. Thumbs up from me.

02-27-2009, 07:36 AM
Thanks for the kind words, Ascension :)

As i said, i hope some of you will try your hands on it, even if it gets not picked for an official monthly challenge.

I have some additional geographical information to add:

There's likely some land beyond the island continents, but I have no idea what might be and neither do the inhabitants of the Summer Empire.

and a question and answer from the author:

1. How much land is west of the mountains in the wild? A lot, like Eurasia, or smaller like say western North America?

Somewhere in between, but more like Eurasia.

2. How tropical do you want the Summer Empire? This will affect the size and shape of the continent, the more tropical the bigger the N-S axis, so that the taiga/boreal forest can be kept.

I was thinking the lower edge was warm (along the lines of Italy or Greece) rather than actually tropical.

3. The Gathans, I was thinking another island chain, kind of like Southeast Asia? Or more like a subcontinent, like India?

Definitely more like a subcontinent, possibly larger than India.

02-27-2009, 09:15 AM
So... is this a challenge suggestion, or a map making request?

-Rob A>

02-27-2009, 09:58 AM
Fair question ;)

I guess it is kind of both. I thought i could phrase it as a suggestion for a mapping challenge because I'd really like to see this world in various styles...it would be very interesting imho. And i am of the same opinion as Ascension...it is a challenge for a map-maker to put the vision of someone else into reality. Therefore i opened the thread in this subforum.

But if it will not be chosen, i'd still like to see it ... i guess this then kind of makes it into a request.

But I really do hope that you chose it for an official mapping-challenge!

I hope i am not breaking any forum-rules with this?!

02-27-2009, 10:19 AM
Nope, not breaking rules at all. Especially cause us Community leaders, well, for all our skills, we really are an uninspired bunch. And by that I mean, just try and come up with 1 different challenge every month. It's tough. So if people have a suggestion, post it. Those that show interest will become a future challenge (that's what happened with February's challenge)

02-27-2009, 10:23 AM
Fair question ;)

I guess it is kind of both. I thought i could phrase it as a suggestion for a mapping challenge because I'd really like to see this world in various styles...it would be very interesting imho. And i am of the same opinion as Ascension...it is a challenge for a map-maker to put the vision of someone else into reality. Therefore i opened the thread in this subforum.

But if it will not be chosen, i'd still like to see it ... i guess this then kind of makes it into a request.

But I really do hope that you chose it for an official mapping-challenge!

I hope i am not breaking any forum-rules with this?!

I wouldn't say it is breaking any rules... But it is a tad self-serving as the author would get to pick from any number of maps for one they like the best, potentially using it for their own benefit ;)

Now, if said author wanted to sponsor a monthly challenge and offer some form of compensation/prize then I am sure we would be willing to host it here ;) We have had great turnout in our sponsored challenges in the past.

-Rob A>

02-27-2009, 10:49 AM
@ Rob - Oh i am not the author of this world. It is another person (John Snead, i mentioned it in the opening post) and I would have no gain other than the pleasure of seeing all you great mappers at work (sure, i would use the map that i like best for a possible rpg in that world, but as i have a long list of yet unplayed rpgs this would not be anytime soon ;) ). As he has posted all of his information on an open forum (rpg.net), i don't think he wants to earn money with it.

I made him aware of this thread and maybe he wants to chim in and maybe even "sponsor" it somehow, but that is up to him. I just thought it would be a great idea...and i hoped to find a lot of roleplayers who would jump at the chance of a new rpg world (and then make a map for it) ;)

Wow, that ended in another post that is too long ... i hope i am not coming off too defensive :oops: i just want to answer all questions honestly.

I most probably already killed my own suggestion with all this rambling... ;)

02-27-2009, 02:17 PM
There are probably free (as in open licensing) campaign settings that could be used for this sort of challenge - If the challenge then includes the condition that the resulting maps should be placed under a similar open license, then the resulting map would enrich that setting and thus benefit more people. This is a much more preferable way than using someone's personal setting.

04-01-2009, 11:47 AM
I voted yes, but it was on the idea rather than the specific campaign world itself

05-09-2009, 11:13 AM
Wanted to give this a bump. Even if it did not get voted for a monthly challenge, i really hope some of the yes-voters do give it a try sometimes.
As Ascension said, this is the truest form of a challenge for a mapper...and i would really like to see what you guys come up with.

05-13-2009, 04:26 AM
You bumped it, I saw it. I have to agree with Jkaen: I like the idea, but I'd personally rather the person who decided the final rules of the challenge invent the world. I'd like it to be a world that doesn't already exist: that way, interpretations of the geography you hadn't previously thought of (or just very creative use of possible puns, etc.) could make a world that was valid, interesting, and not at all what you imagined; if you use an existing world, then there's the bias in how it's "meant" to be versus how people perceive it. To use a very well known map, I'm sure if I described the Lord of The Rings world map, I would get some interesting versions of it, especially with regards to the shape of the coastline; but because I know what it "should" look like, I'd be biased a bit to ones that look like that. So, that's my thought.

Heh, you were bemoaning your long posts earlier, no? I join you there: I can't write a sentence without writing a book. In any event, those are my frighteningly inflated two cents.

05-13-2009, 12:55 PM
I can see your point, Novarri. But it does not fit to this example...because as of now, there is no map of this world...all the fluff text and description i posted is all there is. It was just a "i had some ideas for a world and i throw it out there"-post on rpg.net from this guy (J. Snead, a game designer), not a published setting. So there is no "as it should be" in there. I am sure John has a vague picture in his mind...but i am not him...so i have no consolidated picture in my head.

And yeah, welcome to the club ;)

05-13-2009, 12:56 PM
The idea in of itself is good, and truly is the truest test of a cartographer. However, the reality is that creating "paid-for" maps for a given setting is really what doing that is all about.

Few feel compelled to work on somebody else's world and not get paid for it. The reason being, that many of us work on our own home-brew worlds for the effort, without consideration of pay. Yet, most people building their own home-brews do not feel compelled to work on someone else's home brew for free. Winning a challenge is not enough incentive to do this - at least that's how I feel about it.

The September 08 challenge, was here's a rough coastal outline, placement of towns, forest, mountains and swamp, now create a world based on this rough draft in your own style. That challenge worked, as though there was plenty of direction given, there was no required specificity to a given setting - it was up to our imaginations on what that world was and why.

To come up with a completely stand-alone, for this challenge kind of home-brew is for one too much work on the part of the CLs to develop for a single challenge.

Those challenges related to the CWBP while similar is a project that guilders feel some investment has been done by the community and are willing to map for the sake of the challenge - this works. And we has challenge participants are willing to do such an exercise.

For all these reasons - this challenge idea won't work, and you probably won't get participation from me. Not that the idea is bad, just the fluff surrounding it is not compelling enough to participate. So bump all you want, I don't see it happening.


PS: I've got no compunctions in writing long posts. I prefer complete answers, I almost never make short posts :P

05-13-2009, 05:49 PM
Thanks for your input GP. And as i said...i hope some of those 11 yes voters (that is a good portion, i think) do it nonetheless. Even if it is not an official challenge (how many "yes" votes does an idea need to become an official challenge?). I think it is still an educational experience...or it can be.

See it as an unpaid map-making request if it does not fit into a challenge.

05-13-2009, 06:59 PM
Despite what I said, I voted "yes" for this when it was first posted.