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Sometimes A Map is Just A....MAP

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by , 10-31-2012 at 08:48 PM (1795 Views)
It's not a new idea. It's brought up quite frequently in discussions here at the forum. A map in it's most basic form is a way to distribute information. Here is point A here is point B and here is what in between those two points and how far it is from A to B. See? I just made a map and didn't draw a thing. Obviously it isn't always that simple. Sometimes we need to know about point C or even point X to make an informed choice on where to go. We create worlds that require climate data and geological embellishments. At their heart even the most artistically created maps are just collections of information. I bring this up because sometimes I think it is easy to lose sight of the basic nature of what we create. I know I want to create the best looking maps I can but I still want to make MAPS. Collections of information presented in a aesthetically pleasing manner. Think back to the first maps you ever created. If your anything like me they were probably for some form of role playing game. In my case it D&D (1st edition) Some graph paper and a (fairly) steady hand and I was churning out dungeons by the dozens when I should have been learning English or math. They certainly weren't pretty. They were collections of information. A bunch of squares and rectangles connected by long thin rectangles. They used dashed lines for doors and letters like T and S to denote special features. They were maps in their most basic form. In my head they were dark damp places filled with mystery and monsters. A S or a T meant that my character (and by extension me) had to use their wiles and not just their swords. I could see the danger and touch the rough texture of the walls and smell the dank air. All from a bunch of squares and rectangles. There are some truly breathtaking pieces of cartographic art on this forum. I like to think I've created a few aesthetically pleasing maps. No matter what you create if you (or your players) can feel, hear and even smell) your vision for the map then it is a success.
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