WIP - Hala on Parnem
(Moderators. This is my second try. If I've managed to do this twice feel free to delete this thread. Thank you.)
I have some interest in maps, and made the mistake of saying "OK". So I am now the cartographer for my brother's campaign. Fortunately he expects less of me than I expect (eventually) of myself.
I'll be using GIMP for now. I figure I'll use Inkscape for labels but that's another learning curve down the road.
Parnem is an earthlike world. Hala is the continent on which we'll start our campaign, and whether we see anywhere else remains to be seen. Though not completely relevant, it's a fantasy campaign. "Because magic" will be used as little as possible, but it's there.
The good news from my point of view is that I've been given only a few constraints and otherwise a free hand. I'll mention constraints as they appear necessary or as questions need answered.
Here's my current sketch for Hala.
Hala started life as an equilateral tectonic plate. It got bashed from the west forming a first ridge of mountains, then bashed from the east a few eras later to form the second line. The only other major event is the comet; is the bulls eye you see. It's the marking for a complex crater with the center being water. Complex meaning yes, it has a spire in the center that's not visible at this scale. Yes, it's large enough it may have been a planet-killer and I may need to make more gross terrain adjustments. On the other hand "because it's neat" may apply here as well.
The 'because magic' here is that the lake isn't a dead sea. Instead for reasons I'll not get into it has a subterranean channel to the sea. Yes, that center lake is sea level. The outermost ring around the crater - the terrace rings of a complex crater - is the 'high point' for catchment in the center north and south. The crater caused an interesting jumble where it ran into existing mountains that I'm looking forward to designing.
The next major step I'll be posting will be after I mess with it using Geoff's Climate Cookbook. That will let me decide rivers and climate (especially forest/plain/steppe sorts of decisions).
The map now:
A few comments. First, this is still roughing. The browns are general indicators of contour, not precise yet. The labeled climate zones are rough approximations - while I'm reasonably happy with what's where I suspect I'll move boundaries a bit. (It helps that climate zone boundaries are naturally fuzzy, of course.)
The three unlabeled zones are mountainous terrain; I think it obvious but have learned not to assume too much. The western arc is older and will be rounder-topped (think Appalachian mountain range in the US). The eastern range is newer, taller, sharper - except for where the hammer of the gods crunched it a bit.
Next rough will be river placement. Possibly it will also have national borders roughly noted as well. I figure I'm within a few days of making up my mind what style I'll use for now.
A general question comes to mind. What are the guidelines for updated map images? Should I stop loading, only load after a bunch of updates, feel free to continue as I am, or what?
Don't want to blow up the server storage limits, but thought letting people comment as the newbie learns might be educational in the long run.
I'm waiting on input from the GM before the next stage. He'll note where he intends various nations should be placed, then I'll add rivers and other terrain features to justify those borders -- and get on with making it a better map instead of the current sketch. In the meantime a couple of things. For one I'll be working on a city map for this continent. That will show up later in the appropriate forum.
Immediately and in this post, another sketch map. This one adds longitude/latitude, and scales. I'm proud of the latter but have a little question for the masses. Map first:
All longitude/latitude lines are 15 degree increments. It should be obvious the longitudes are approximations drawn with a mouse. I intended it mainly to show the size of the continent of Hala.
What I want to point out and ask about is down in the bottom right. In addition to the mileage distance bar (bottom left) I've got 'travel scale'. Distances traveled by most common means over a five day period. While I sort of like what I've done and will have similar on the later maps, I think it can be improved.
That's the input I'm asking at this instant. What recommendations do you have for improving those scale bars?
I think you're fine as you are. Sometimes people just don't have much to say, and if you have relevant new info to add to your own thread, it's sure not spamming in my book.
Originally Posted by kirkspencer
I like the travel times scales; that's one thing I always mean to add in to my own maps and seldom do. One thing that always trips me up about it is the scale seems to be assuming relatively neutral plains or farmlands terrain. One would guess that five days by foot through a mountain range is quite different than five days by foot through a peaceful shire, but how to accurately show that? (And show it without taking up a third of the map in scale descriptions...)
That question is why the gray bars, and I realize I didn't label that portion. The gray is expected when all is smooth, the black is rough but not tortuous. It gives a range.
And in-game if something is in the gray part it's five to six days - another reason for choosing the five day block.
I agree with Diamond, the scale bars are particularly well thought out. As far as concerns about terrain I just use scalars for terrain. There is no need to put travel times over every terrain type, though it can help with clarity to state something like "by level road" or some such.
Taking a break from the city, not least because the GM wants his continent before the game begins in a few weeks. As usual, C&C appreciated and I've also a question or two as well. WIP first:
First: hand drawing with a mouse is a pain. Someday I will have extra money and will purchase a pen. Or so I dream, but I digress.
Biggest request for comments is the crater. There's enough there to get an idea where I'm going, and you can look upthread for the contour guides. Do I need more hill/cliff, or is what is there doing a good job of suggesting a near-continuous naturally terraced crater?
When I start doing the rest of the crater, and in particular the south, should I be hatching the cliff 'down' toward the lake in the center? (I think so, I'm double-checking)
Shadows for the mountains are coming. Are there particular recommendations for hills and mountains as presently drawn? I'm a neo, I'm going to listen. (I'm stubborn, I may not do what you say, but I promise to listen.)
I think you have the right idea for the cliffs. But personally I'd make the ledges more continuous and maybe the descending lines a bit longer.
As for the mountains, I think the size difference is a bit too exaggerated. Not that there can't be a large difference in the scaling but as it currently is I think they look like they're from two different maps. I think a few shorter peaks mixed among the tall ones will show that the scale difference is intentional.
One way to get a bit more control when you don't have a tablet is to draw things by hand and scan them in, then go over them with the mouse as necessary. If you're using a laptop, finger painting with the trackpad can also be pretty effective once you get the hang of it.
Thanks Flocko. In addition to adding some smaller mountains in the east I added some larger ones in the west. And rivers.
I might have made too much taper on some of the rivers. I'll let them ride for now because that's just some eraser work if I decide to thin them. (Yes, I'm drawing them with a mouse.) Map as of now:
Barring GM requests for changes and C&C here, mountains, hills, and rivers are done. That leaves:
Vegetation (forests, swamps, possibly grasslands)
Labels and legends.