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Thread: How would monsters map?

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    Guild Journeyer Gracious Donor rgcalsaverini's Avatar
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    Default How would monsters map?

    I was pondering about it earlier today, and wanted to hear some ideas and opinions.
    Take well organized, sociable and warmongering monsters, say Kobolds or Trolls. Should a more centralized power arise from the unification of a few tribes or clans, they will have mapping needs. Where are those yummy humans located? Where did we hid all those shinning things? I think that they would naturally try some mapping.

    Direction
    Maybe they don't know about compasses, and magnetism and such, and have to develop another way, more local, of achieving a sense of direction. One obvious way would be celestial features, such as the sun(s), moon(s) and stars. Maybe some visible geographical feature, such as a humongously big mountain.
    Or maybe, and that's way more fun, they could assign some greater meaning or shape to their land, and use it to both naming and direction. For example, a troll tribe might believe that their land is shaped as the head of a troll, and use the facial features of a head as geographical references: "I see a pack of humans approaching the mouth, coming from the nose!"
    Such thing has been done in antiquity and now and then is done again, apparently we find it easier to guide ourselves if we make analogies with well known objects.

    How would monsters map?-lion_map.jpg

    How would monsters map?-20120831-handymap.jpg

    Take those two maps above, its really easy to get a sense of direction from them. After 5 minutes memorizing that map, If you put your hands in the same way as the map shows, you can easily remember where the cities are and even guess some distances. And if you live somewhere at that lion's head, by referring to something at the lion's right forward paw, you can guess some distances and paths quite easily.

    It sounds like something a primitive and superstitious race would do.

    Labeling:
    Maybe they don't yet have developed writing to the point of labeling a map, and have to express themselves in a more pictorial way. The smoky river is drawn literally as a river with smoke clouds above it? The dark passage between the mountains is colored black? The human village is represented as a stylized human? I can see the map quickly turning into a huge drawing. (By the way, is it no longer a map? It surely serves a map function).

    Media:
    Maybe paper is very rare, found only on lucky raids on human villages. They could use burning sticks on leather, or maybe carve wood. If they do get good at carving wood, and with some leather, they could even attempt a woodcut relief printing, it is a technique used by humanity for reproduction for a very very long time, and the looks of roughly done xylography are quite barbaric and I think that are aesthetically perfect for monsters.

    Here is a quickly scribbled test of those ideas, of what might be a map for that troll society, if done in woodcut printed in two colors (human blood and coal
    How would monsters map?-experiment2.jpg

    If you're not that familiar with the look of woodcut printed stuff (you probably are, remember Munch's The Scream, or Madonna?) here are some nice examples:

    How would monsters map?-hand-pulled-woodblock-09.jpg
    How would monsters map?-woodcut-swan-fade-corrected.jpg
    How would monsters map?-katetje_woodcut_building.jpg
    How would monsters map?-15771434dbc2d4ca637ea0086e967f47.jpg

    I love this! If I ever get enough free time I'll steal my fathers equipment and try my hand at a woodcut map!

    How do you think a monster would map? What would be their uses for a map? Media? Style?


    PS: I'm sorry about the huge amount of uploaded images, I know how irresponsible that is regarding server disc usage. I will donate to make up for my occasional excesses.
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      Jalyha is offline
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    Okay, despite the fact that I now have the song "Monster Mash" running through my head (with updated lyrics: "He did the monster mash" has become "He made a monster map!"), I really like this. What an interesting concept!

    BUT!! Now you have to make a monster map

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      - Max - is offline
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    May I suggest you could propose that as a challenge idea perhaps?

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      Falconius is offline
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    Given that maps are a set of data presented visually I don't think development of maps would be much different than ours regardless of who is making them.

    Also one has to give consideration as to what sense is of primary importance to them. For instance if it were dogs making maps it would clearly have to be based around scent, but why would they represent such a thing visually. In other words dogs would never develop maps because they can't convey the right information (scents) in a relevant fashion (scent). Dogs would just go on a walk about and show the relevant information so that others would remember it. Only creatures to whom visual information is so key would ever bother developing these things. Even then the right circumstances would have to be present, for instance birds would never see an immediate need for maps so they wouldn't bother starting the creation of maps despite the fact that it would help with long distance navigation.
    Last edited by Falconius; 01-28-2014 at 03:23 PM.
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    December 2008 monthly challenge (I could be wrong on the year) was to create an Orc's Christmas map, although it wasn't required that the map be created by orcs - though some entries were just that, looking like a violent 3 year old drawing a map. So we tackled this idea, kinda-sorta, in the past.
    Gamer Printshop - We print RPG Maps for Game Masters!
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    Guild Journeyer Gracious Donor rgcalsaverini's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Falconius View Post
    Given that maps are a set of data presented visually I don't think development of maps would be much different than ours regardless of who is making them.
    Precisely, I think that since they have the same use, they shouldn't develop too differently, what I suggested is somewhat the pre-history of human maps. But It shouldn't be identical either, unless the other race goals, use of senses and manipulation capabilities were identical to ours.

    Quote Originally Posted by Falconius View Post
    Also one has to give consideration as to what sense is of primary importance to them. For instance if it were dogs making maps it would clearly have to be based around scent, but why would they represent such a thing visually. In other words dogs would never develop maps because they can't convey the right information (scents) in a relevant fashion (scent). Dogs would just go on a walk about and show the relevant information so that others would remember it. Only creatures to whom visual information is so key would ever bother developing these things. Even then the right circumstances would have to be present, for instance birds would never see an immediate need for maps so they wouldn't bother starting the creation of maps despite the fact that it would help with long distance navigation.
    I agree, but the keyword here is immediate. I started with the idea that the monsters are forming some kind of larger society geographically sparse, and that propelled them to make maps. If dogs were on that situation, an american dog would not be able to actually show to a fellow countrydog how to go to France (assuming that such travel would be possible) in a practical way. They would have to devise some way to put that information in a compact and accessible way, and since scent is really hard to preserve, its possible that it could be a graphical map, granted, a VERY different map than what we are accustomed to, maybe trying to convey a sense of scent, and respecting their vision limitations.
    Same with birds, they might not have the need now, but a huge bird society would need maps to organize trades and such, but maybe a very different map, mapping air currents like we map roads.

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    Guild Journeyer Gracious Donor rgcalsaverini's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gamerprinter View Post
    December 2008 monthly challenge (I could be wrong on the year) was to create an Orc's Christmas map, although it wasn't required that the map be created by orcs - though some entries were just that, looking like a violent 3 year old drawing a map. So we tackled this idea, kinda-sorta, in the past.
    That's really interesting, you wouldn't happen to have the link, would you? I tried, but I suck at searching =\

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    Here's the link to the initial December 2009 challenge.

    Here was my entry, note - I used to do all kinds of extra work on map challenges, just to challenge me, and for the December 2009 challenge, I not only created an Orc's Christmas map, but I wrote a 20 stanza poem and created a 20 page illustrated (very dark) children's book based on the story behind the map: Twelve Nights of Yuleblood
    Gamer Printshop - We print RPG Maps for Game Masters!
    http://www.gamer-printshop.com

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      Jalyha is offline
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    Edit: Nevermind, it's working now O.o
    Last edited by Jalyha; 01-28-2014 at 04:45 PM.

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      Falconius is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by rgcalsaverini View Post
    Same with birds, they might not have the need now, but a huge bird society would need maps to organize trades and such, but maybe a very different map, mapping air currents like we map roads.
    That would be very cool indeed.
    Quote Originally Posted by rgcalsaverini View Post
    I agree, but the keyword here is immediate. I started with the idea that the monsters are forming some kind of larger society geographically sparse, and that propelled them to make maps.
    I guess my hang up is of a more primary one that would prevent these creatures developing in the first place in that sight is just such an important sense for developing a society that retains information. After one accepts the leap that these monsters formed an information based society somehow, despite other senses being far more central to them then I can move forward on it.

    It also makes me curious just as to how dogs would represent scents visually. I would imagine they would land make by large groups of scents and depict the sources of these smells extremely accurately. For instance, it wouldn't just be a grove of olive trees, it would be a grove of specifically delineated black olive trees. The also might depict directions based on prevailing winds such as "in the direction from wear the sea scent blows". Which would be interesting as it would lead to a lot of directional indicators over a large enough area. I would imagine that anything with specific smells in large enough quantities would serve as their land marks which would be heavily based on stable populations of organic things. Obviously water bodies, some geographical features that smell, like sulfur pits, or far more subtle ones. They'd probably even have things like "the area that smells of iron dirt".

    Perhaps the most interesting feature of these maps would be the likelihood of how completely they would ignore the signifiers we consider important, such as peculiar landforms, unique buildings etc.
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