View Full Version : Help request for article about RPG medieval maps

05-07-2007, 06:01 PM
Hello, friends:

I have been working for the past few days on an "article" detailing the basic composition of medieval cartography, for use by RPG mapmakers who wish to create authentic feeling maps.

I began a similar list some time ago in order to improve my own maps, but then I decided to expand and systematize it for others' eyes as well. At first I foolishly thought this would be simple to write, but as always it turned into a tangled forest of no return, through which I hacked my way for some time until I created the draft I have attached to this thread.

If you have any interest and free time, I could really use some feedback on it. Ideas, suggestions, additions, critiques... and (especially) point out any mistakes. Anything at all will help.

I'm not sure what I will ultimately do with this article; I may submit it somewhere or (more likely) I'll post the finished copy here in the Guild in a new thread.

Thanks a million,

05-08-2007, 05:15 AM
Interesting read, Don. I'll send you an email with my thoughts.

all the best


The Cartographist
12-22-2007, 10:53 AM
Pyrandon - Really interesting read and a good first draft. What ever became of this little project? Did you ever go any further with it?

12-22-2007, 10:55 AM
Ironic you should dig this one up, "Tim": The cummunity leaders & I have just decided to try and edit it up for the upcoming Fantaseum magazine. Do you have any suggestions on it (does anyone)? I have not read it for well over 6 months, and it was written so quickly I imagine there are many needed changes; if anyone has input I would love to hear it.

The Cartographist
12-22-2007, 01:01 PM
There were numerous editing fixes that needed to be made, i.e. spelling, grammar, one or two punctuation. All minor things to fix, but things that definitely need to be fixed.

In general, I think that it is a really good start. Having said that, I think that it needs to be expanded. Almost every point that you bring up (while absolutely valid) could be well-served by writing a little more, whether that is more examples, further description, etc.

I really liked how you wrote suggestions based on your "facts" for RPG maps. Most of those can be expanded as well.

The ONLY major critique that I have of the article stems from your desire to generalize for "medieval" maps, which you go on to say spans several hundred years (I believe at one point, you say the 7th thru 14th centuries.). The problem is that then, at various points in the article, you say that there were changes in general map technique and proficiency over that span of several hundred years and that generalizing is difficult to do so. To correct this, I would recommend tightening up the time span that you plan to discuss or at least split it up into several periods and discuss each separately.

Ultimately, I think that the article should be focused, or expanded. Put another way, your coverage is a mile wide and an inch deep. I would rather read a mile wide and a few feet deep, or a quarter mile wide and several feet deep.

Last suggestion (Which I hope ties together all of the babbling above): Take each of the "facts" that you present and turn it into a 3-4 page article. You would then have a series of articles vice one really long one.

12-22-2007, 01:11 PM
You could expand each section/paragraph into several pages with more examples. Also at major changes in mapping expand those points as intro pages into subchapters...

What I'm saying - add some depth, expand the thoughts, even include some tutorials and you've almost got enough material for a complete book. Say a handbook or manual. Publish on Fantaseum, or as Cartographers Guild's first published work.

Just a thought. 8)

The Cartographist
12-22-2007, 02:18 PM
...why it took Gamerprinter about 1/5 of the words I used to say what I was trying to say but better. But in any event-- what he said.

Especially this part:
...you've almost got enough material for a complete book. Say a handbook or manual. Publish on Fantaseum, or as Cartographers Guild's first published work.

Which I was going to say myself.

12-22-2007, 11:34 PM
For a starter article to whet people's appetite, this is really nice. As far as giving generalized rules of thumb, it is a great article. If nothing it should make some gm's at least think about their maps a bit more.

If you were to take this to another level I would suggest some narrative associated with the "typical"rpg encounter with a map (charred parchment with knife cuts and blood spatters) and what a more historically accurate version might be (cloth map carefully wrapped in oilcloth).

12-23-2007, 06:06 AM
You may also want to work in some of the issues that were brought up in the 'How far should RPG maps follow Natural Laws' (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=1242) thread as well.

12-23-2007, 11:56 PM
Wowee: An entire series of articles? I'm sure you fellas are right about that--for the draft I wrote is very generalized in more than one aspect--but I am also sure I'm not the guy to actually pen those articles. Heck, I want to read the end-products you suggest myself!! That would be great!

Thanks for all the great suggestions. Keep 'em comin'!

12-24-2007, 02:13 AM
So, Pyrandon, be the primary author of the work, but take on contributing authors from other members, especially industry leaders; troll the best of the old threads, include the new "cartography vocabulary" thread as a glossary of terms, have tutorials created using multiple mapping and graphics applications to illustrate points throughout this work.

Set the direction and be the editor. If you ask nicely, I'm sure those members with the technical and professional background will contribute.

Make it available as a PDF, but also sell it - print-on-demand or Amazon printed, with all proceeds going to cartographersguild.com

Coming up with a defined work would help promote this site as a major contributor into the cartography industry, give us "swag", and help fund server costs and any other expenses. Perhaps create a fund shared by all Fantaseum sites... just thoughts. Or give it away! 8)

Or let it pay for a Gencon and other Con Booths for the guild... ideas.

12-24-2007, 10:56 AM
Great ideas, GP, thanks. We community leaders have been toying with many publishing/fund raising ideas for some time now--including many you mention, albeit not surrounding my little article but rather other avenues and products. As you say, the use of moneys earned is negotiable, but we can always use to to pay for site upkeep/software, and a con booth would be sweet, too.

Thanks so much for your input!

12-24-2007, 05:02 PM
I see the possibility more than one manual. Your Midieval mapping Sourcebook, a Sci-Fi mapping manual, historical mapping manual, map-making with GIMP, Inkscape, PS, PSP, Xara - over time of course and by multiple authors, are all possibilities in Cartographers Guild publications.

By publishing map reference material - we become more than a forum, with greater acceptance in the larger cartography community.

I see other possibilities too - but I'm getting away from "this particular article and direction towards publication..." 8)