Hi everyone! I'm not actually much of a cartographer, but I am a GM, and ain't nobody gonna draw my world if I don't right? ^_^; Anyway. I'd love it if some of you nice folks would tell me what I've got wrong in my current WIP before I tell my players that this time I totally won't move that mountain range again, cross my heart.
SO, the first version of the map, circa 2004...ish:
Ick! There's a river coming from the middle of my desert! What is that lake doing there ARGH D:< Yeah, here's the thing, I'm terrible at geography. I blame my schooling - I'm pretty sure I didn't even have a geography class before 9th grade, and by then it was way too late. I'm doing better since I moved out of home and grew into being a proper nerd and all, but still, that's a lot to learn. Anyway ASIDE from the somewhat bizarre geography there (ignore the big weird white bit - that's the obligatory "a wizard did it" landmark) I realised pretty quickly that I'd made the whole thing look way too small. This isn't just A continent, it's supposed to be THE continent! The bigass Afro-Eurasian centre of my game world. In the first map, it looks more like a cute little New Zealand. Also my woodlands look kinda like apple-flavoured marshmallow (nom!).
(Plus it was really derivative of Eberron WHUPS)
Ao anyway, last year I sat down and started trying to make my map darker and edgier a bit more realistic looking, and like it would take more than a week to walk across. I didn't get all the way to finishing it, because there were still some things that were bugging me:
I caught on to a few nice techniques this time around, like bevelled coastlines. Less appealing are my not-really-blending colours and obvious tiled textures >.<; More importantly, though, I'd started a huge giant campaign with a continent-spanning war (WotBS anyone? Any ENWorld fans here?) and I kept wanting to widen that gap, extend that mountain range, fiddle with that border... anyway, it got too frustrating and I dropped it for another few months.
Thus we come to tonight! Sick of fanagling wars that didn't quite make sense and borders that were not nearly as defensible as the plot demanded, I took another crack at the thing. This time, finally, it looks significantly different. I mean for reasons other than being a silhouette.
Okay so finally this lump of rock is starting to look big, really big! I hope. Aaaand here's where I'd really appreciate if everybody could give me their advice. DOES it look big to you guys? Would you have any trouble believing that's the major continent on its planet?
What about the coastline - too jagged? I thought last year's version sort of looked too much like puzzle pieces in a lot of places, so I tried to tone that down this time. Also I read up on the forum about rivers especially (DAMN YOU RIVERS) and tried to visualise how the land around them was shaped - do you see any stand-out weirdness? Have I left in any strange inlets or bays or whatever that would simply not occur in nature?
(Oh, ignore the islands shaded in grey for now - they're orbiting above the main continent. I mean what's fantasy if you can't have airships and floating islands, right? Anyway, so they're pretty much irrelevant to the rest of the map.)
Also, if you're not already totally bored, here is an (artistically impeccable!) rendition of what the terrain will be like on the new map:
I'd really appreciate any critique you have on how realistic this is or isn't. There's lots of stuff I'm unsure about (remember, terrible at geography! On Friday night I learned that Africa was like right next to Europe WHICH I HAD NOT PREVIOUSLY KNOWN good lord.). Like, does my savannah need a major river? I have the impression it should require regular flooding, but I may have made that up. Is it appropriate for fields/light wooded areas to sit between the swamp and the savannah? (PLEASE say yes. My players are in the swamp right now and that would be SO EMBARRASSING. D:) The major thing I'm going for is to make it believable/natural - I'm trying to make a fantasy world which, when magic isn't responsible for something, does actually follow the laws of science and nature.
...I just realised I still have rivers just hanging about in the desert. AAARGHDamnit. Maybe I should just extend the mountain range up the coast.
Okay, I'm making less and less sense as this post goes on, so time to send it out into the world! SO, thank you for reading, and please lend me your wisdom! I promise I will be grateful :)