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Thread: Left Justified Fantasy Map Trope

  1. #11
      psyekl is offline
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    For myself, I often place the sea in the west as a concious decision (well, as far as sword-and-sorcery fantasy is concerned). I do this because, as a whole, it is easier to familiarize one's self in a setting that is oriented like Europe, which the fantasy theme usually emulates. From an artistic point of view, it is easier for the viewer to picture knights in shining armor fighting dragons and rescuing maidens when the map is oriented in a familiar fashion, particularly if the map is an decorative representation without many labels. Maps that orient themselves with the sea to the east tend to conjure up visions of dense cities crowded with Victorian buildings, new-world harbors choked with ships and skies thick with the smog of industrial steam engines. I've always noticed that, at least to me, the map instinctively creates a feeling between the "old" and the "new" by how it is oriented.

    This is not to say that I believe that maps should be done in a certain way. The CG is full of examples of deviations from the "earth theme"; even my own fantasy world stretches off to the west with the sea in the east. The only orientation that I find difficult to deviate from is that it is COLD in the north and WARM in the south. I've experimented with placing a fantasy setting in the southern hemisphere and, being a child of the north and having never been south of the equator, it seemed too "different" to maintain the desired "feel" of the setting.
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  2. #12
      rdanhenry is offline
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    Well, Robert E. Howard's map is "left justified", but it's pre-cataclysmic Europe + bits of Asia and Europe. Lloyd Alexander's Prydain is "left justified", but it's a fictionalized Wales. I'm just not convinced.

    Am I guilty? I'll check the maps I have convenient.

    Full continent 4
    Island 2
    No ocean or minor intrusions of seas 3
    Oceans on three sides, north vanishes into ice cap 1
    Oceans on three sides, east ends in a land edge 1
    Ocean on left 2
    Ocean on right 2*
    * - includes one where right is south
    Ocean on top 1
    Ocean on bottom 1
    Lake on bottom 1
    Ocean on lower left 2
    Ocean on upper right 1

    Looks like I don't have a strong bias, except that today I really want full bodies of land, be they islands or continents.

    I'm not really sure that there's a dominance of "left justified" maps after you throw out those that are fictionalized versions of real world places. Google image search for 'fantasy map' turned up only three on the first page of results, all of which were Middle Earth.

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