Maps & Me and also Hi
Well hey there. I come from the far-off-lands of The Basement. By that meaning a site, formerly called "The Penthouse", then "The Basement" (apparently we got kicked out of the penthouse and the landlord moved us to the basement or something. I dunno, pretty lame joke just there.) It's now called "Darkstorm Gaming" It's a Rollerblading site, though personally, I prefer 'collaborative story' since we've been doing it for around 3 years now and have a variety of stories and what have you, but I digress. (Don't worry, all this exposition leads to the subject of maps) Anyways. I mostly GM there, as I love machiavellian plots and so forth, they just get me so happy. And in recent years, I've run a game titled "A Tale of Rat and Dragon" which is politicking and wars and misery in a sort of medieval fantasy world, complete with a fantasy of every faction form the Flemish to the Moors, and even it's own version of the Crusades. Anyways. I really loved mastering that, and guiding players in monumental 3000 plus word posts and spinning these great epics is, for lack fo a better word 'awesome.'
But that's sort of rambling now.
Anyways. By now this world has a following and and even classmates at my high school read it as me and 'the guys' write for it and make the stories and they have favorite characters and places and so forth. It's the most living world I've ever made. I feel like I could step right into Norvath and witness it with my own eyes instead of typed words, but the whole ongoing setting with it's truly massive scale and scope of civil war and pacts with hell and holy pilgrimage, veiwed through the eyes of it's people, from guttersnipes of the Greenport to the Lords Freeholder in Kingshead, came about around two years ago. I had just finished reading some medieval history books and was just reading this thing titled "The Crusades" and saw this map of europe.
So I doodled my own map on a bit of A4 paper I had lying around. That 'doodle' turned into a 10 page taped together extravaganzaas I labeled places as "Freeholds" and gave them names like "The Stonelands, the Huntlands, the East Marches, the Rains, Karkony, Marne" and so forth and so on. Eventually, I went up to my roof and was pacing around (I live in a 3rd world country on the Indian subcontinent and we like flat roofs here) and then started thinking about my map. I did a short theatrical piece by myself (I'm a little...off like that. I talk to myself and make characters in my head and store them for future use and what have you) and made some characters and had some neat interaction and places and then wait a moment, I had two whole stories. So I got out my computer, wrote one down as the backstory, and then the other one as notes. I pitched the idea to friends on Darkstorm Gaming and plenty of them got on board for it. I did an incredibly crude digital map in paint, and then spent several days doing a much more detailed map. Still, these were both Paint maps. But I managed to impress the guys with them, and 2 years later, we have the Realm of Rat and Dragon, 4 continents and enough politicking to make Dune envious.
About last year I went back to an old setting. A sort of high fnatasy game called Infernal Designs that I ran with a friend and the whole site participated in. (It's a fairly small community) It was really quite fun to run. Magical fantasy with Moorish elves and Viking dwarves and Norman humans in an 8th century level of technology. Fun. But I went back and looked at it and the game we ran in it and though "Y'know. This map is really crappy" And it was. The map was a lopsided square with a big off yellow blob for a desert, a suicidal depressing blue field for the seas, some green blobs for the forest and jungles, grey triangles for mountains, white blobs for the polar regions and a muddy brown anywhere else that made me just think of mud flats absolutely everywhere. This could not stand. I went into Paint again and made a far more detialed map, even better than my map of Norvath. Teh setting came even more alive. "Wow! what a map!" the guys said.
By now, I must have made three dozen more maps in paint, even a galaxy map once, though I'm a hardcore fantasy guy. Not only did I do maps in paint, but I did some actually passing decent art of characters and regional maps and so forth but felt something was lacking. I looked around at other maps and paintings saw what they could do and what other artists could do and I was really impressed. I wanted to be like that. Because for me, when I'm doing a fantasy world, I often make the maps first, oddly enough. Okay, I have a few dozen pages in word about the rough cultural outline and places, but what really gets me going (giggity) is making maps for these realms. A map makes a realm come alive. Heck, half the maps I've ever made I scrapped because they weren't 'just right.' Now, I love writing, and one day, I hope to get out some actual books (hah) perhaps with a Norman conquest or ancient world level of technology because I've always loved the early middle ages and Rome, as well as the Viking Age.
Now, in the saga of Nepty's mapping tales, we go to a few days ago. I'd been on winter break for the past 2 weeks, and had to go back to school in a few days. Well, I had been trying for nearly half a year to get a map 'just right' so that I felt a setting could come alive in it for a game with the guys, to run alongside Rat & Dragon at some point. I had an idea and everything, but without the map, it just seemed so...lifeless. I went around and searched for how to make maps in photoshop, found a tutorial on youtube, then noticed a link after further perusing to "the Cartographer's Guild" and found some neat mapmaking techniques, and just a few days ago, I completed my first what I'd call 'decent' map. Still haven't really figured out how to get colors to blend totally right or how to get the land to stay flat in places when I add textures or put in forests and so for-uh. I think you get the point. Well, as you can see, I have a lot to learn. But I like maps all the same, the make settings come alive, and to learn how to make a great map, even anywhere near like the one I just saw by Viking would be fantastic, and perhaps, after some time here, I can learn and holy crap by all the gods of the multiverse I have rambled on for ages. Well. That was my intro. As you can see, I'm...I'm pretty given to long posts with tons of exposition.
So, without further delay...*drumroll*
Hi. I'm Neptondoodle. Call me Nepty.
Well hello and welcome, fellow rambler :O
That was an amazing intro. Sure, there are people who see a giant wall of text and cringe, but I ignore those people because I know how satisfying and entertaining it can be to send your entire train of thought careening full speed into an unsuspecting forum, watching breathlessly until it crashes and explodes in a beautiful shower of red and orange and twisted metal.
But this isn't about me. It's your welcome!
I've been tempted to draw a giant expanding map like that 10-page wonder you've described as well. My true fascination with mapping only began recently (after finding these fora) but I've been tempted to simply start sketching my world, one city at a time, on the walls of my apartment. Unfortunately, my landlord has nixed the idea. It's sad really.
Anyway, I've never been able to get in to text RP, but it's always fascinated me and your world sounds fun.
If you want to start mapping more or improving your maps, this is definitely the place to be. I'm still new, but everyone here has been super nice, and extremely helpful. They're full of great ideas, so you won't be able to resist learning something.
I don't want to start rambling now, because I won't stop, so I'll simply say: Welcome to the forums, Nepty. :)
Welcome to the Guild Nepty!