View Full Version : A Question of Scale -WIP

06-23-2009, 11:05 PM
Hello, everyone! As you can no doubt tell, I am new to these forums. I decided that it would be a fun challenge to attempt to create a fantasy world for a D&D campaign which I hope to run, and I quickly found that what I was attempting to do was well beyond my amateur skills. Then I stumbled upon this site, and found some very helpful tutorials, and now I am very pleased with the world that I see forming before myself. However, I have a fairly terrible knowledge of geography, and, as such, have a few questions. Because of some helpful information about plate tectonics, I think that I understand where I should put my mountains and valleys and such, but I don't know anything about scale.

I know that the Earth is around 24,000-25,000 miles around, and right now my document is 3,000 pixels wide, so, if I make each pixel 10 miles, it would be around the right size of a planet. But I'm not sure how big to make the mountain ranges, or the forests, cities, marshes, towns, plains, etc. I don't know anything about the average size of anything. Also, for those of you who play D&D, how much ground would the average party of adventurers be able to cross in a day's march?

Thanks for the help. If you want to see the world so far, here it is (I plan on adding more in the way of color at some point):

06-23-2009, 11:35 PM
First off welcome to the guild :)

Second, you're map here need to be cut in half vertically due to the wrap around effect. A map like this should be twice as wide as it is tall...polar caps at top and bottom and the map wraps around like a tube so that the edges join up and the poles don't.

Third, since you're going for a parchment or antique style, you can make your cities, towns, and such anything you like without regard to proper scale. Draw them out from a side view or isometric view (three-quarters top down like the old Zaxxon game or Q-bert squares). They don't have to look perfect they just have to convey the information that there is a city in that spot.

Fourth, look through the Tutorials section to find all sorts of helpful guides for making mtns, forests, n such in a hand-drawn style.

Good start by the way and just that one minor tweak, but it probably means re-working the whole thing.

Steel General
06-24-2009, 07:14 AM
Welcome Aboard!

Ditto what Ascension already stated.

06-24-2009, 08:54 AM
Heh... another approach could be to call this map "The Known World" and let it cover about half the surface of your planet... that way, you wouldn't have to cut it in half. The other side could be mostly water, like with the Pacific Ocean. Took the Europeans quite some time to find America, eh?

06-24-2009, 09:37 AM
Welcome to the Guild.

A good write up on what Ascension is talking about can be found here:


06-24-2009, 11:13 AM
I think I read that heroic characters can walk for 10 hours in a day at about 3 miles per hour - or maybe it is faster than that in less time - but they suggested that a 30 mile walk is a lot for a day - especially with carrying a lot of gear.

It might be faster by horse, or maybe you would just carry more stuff.

Of course rough terrain would slow people down... mountains and forests and swamps, oh my!

Google land movement in D&D... some previous editions had crazy charts for that stuff...


06-24-2009, 08:22 PM
I used to run with the rough rule that characters could take a normal stroll pace at their standard move in miles per day so a human with a 12"mv could go 12 miles per day or 24 if forced marching. This assumes an 8 hour day stroll or maybe 12/16 hours for the forced march with all the consequences of it. So when dealing with ships which travel 24hrs per day then they go something like twice or three times their normal move speed in miles per day - depending on wind and conditions etc - although I think the rates are quoted for them in miles per day anyway. Although a human does about 3mph walking, when carrying normal encumbrance and accounting for stops then its a lot less. Of course there are people who do these marathons in 2 hours so making for 15mph and some do that for longer than the 2 hrs but they are pretty exceptional. That would give 100 miles per day or so and then magic on top could extend even that. I know of some walkers who do 40 miles per day with full pack but I don't know if that's 8 hrs or 12 tho.

07-05-2009, 11:02 PM
Thank you to everyone for all of the helpful information! I am terribly sorry for not replying earlier, but my RL just exploded into complete chaos and is finally starting to get settled down. All that I had time for each day was logging on to check email to solve more problems, but I kept this open in a side tab so that I could come back to it when I had the proper time.

And now I do :)

Now, the one thing that I don't understand is why I would have to split the map in half to add the polar caps. Couldn't I just either expand the map or squash the world down an inch or so and ad the caps in?


07-05-2009, 11:23 PM
The reason is because the distance from pole to pole (through the core) is not the same as the circumference around the equator. If you took an orange, peeled it in one piece, and measured it you will understand. Of course, this could just be just one half, one hemisphere, of the world.

07-06-2009, 12:36 AM
It could be cylindrical equal area with a standard latitude of ~55.5-degrees.

07-06-2009, 04:01 PM

Thank you for explaining it to me with the orange. Don't I feel foolish now, haha. I'll just chalk it up to being a beginner's mistake

07-06-2009, 04:41 PM
No problem man, so many people forget those measurements that it should probably be stickied somewhere, like in a mapmaker's bible.