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Thread: Conxept design question

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    Question Conxept design question

    When building a fictional world do you start with a world, regional or city map? What are the pros and cons of each choice.

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    Guild Apprentice Savannah's Avatar
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    Well, it really depends on how you're building the world. If you're one of the people who starts with the big stuff (cosmology, world geography, etc) and gradually fills in the details (kingdoms, towns, etc), then you'd probably want to start with the world map and map out smaller areas as you add details. If you start with a small area you're interested in and then build out to the whole world, you'd want to start with maps for the little areas you've developed the most.

    Why you're building the world also matters -- if you're doing it for a specific purpose, you should consider what maps you'll actually need for that purpose and start there. If you're doing it more for fun in general or as an excuse to make maps, I don't think it really matters where you start, as long as it's a map you want to make.
    Last edited by Savannah; 10-01-2012 at 03:30 PM.
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    Guild Master Facebook Connected jtougas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sathurn View Post
    When building a fictional world do you start with a world, regional or city map? What are the pros and cons of each choice.
    I think that is a purely personal choice. In my case I created a kingdom by first creating a city and then "fleshing" out the area around it until I had a large region. This was the best choice for me because of the fact that I really like to write and cities provide a maximum amount of intrigue and plot for a minimum of "real estate" I actually started with a single tavern (this is over 30 years ago) and a city grew up around it over the course of a very long campaign. The down side of this approach is (IMO) that if your writing skills are not as strong as you'd like them to be it can be hard coming up with the next "piece of the puzzle". Creating the larger region first has the advantage of having everything geographically "there" which can sometimes make it easier to place a city here or a small town there because it makes sense geographically. World building is an art and a science and I don't think there is a right or wrong way to do it. If you don't have a definite place in mind there are plenty of ways to make a "random" landmass that you can then customize to your needs. Place a mountain there a few rivers here and there and then things like city placement can become obvious based on resources. I always start small and work out as I like to see where the story takes me. Either way have fun and good luck
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    Guild Member ManOfSteel's Avatar
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    I think that one advantage to building on a world scale is that you can take a city's present day layout and work backwards through its history based on the geography you've already created. Mind you, this is if you don't already have a complete history thought up for the city. For instance, let's say you've made your continents, calculated where the mountains go, and figured out the courses of your rivers. For a certain city:
    Does it lie on an island situated in a major shipping lane? If so, it's going to be rich from trade, tribute, and knowledge.
    Does it lie at the mouth of a great river? If so, it will be a major port and a gateway to the sea via ships, and to the interior of the continent via barges.
    Is it near a dormant volcano? Then it was probably destroyed at least once in recorded history.
    Is it near an active fault? Depending on the type of fault, as with the volcano, it's probably been destroyed at least once in the last few hundred years.
    Is it in an open plain or desert in the middle of a continent? If the passage through is more East/West, a greater flow of trade and knowledge will occur. If the general passage is North/South, the change in climate usually hinders trade somewhat.
    Is it high in the mountains or beyond a formidable mountain range? Then to a greater or lesser degree, it will be isolated, provincial, wary of outsiders, and resistant to change.
    Is it near the ocean? Even if it's not a major port, a seagoing city gets its food from the sea and makes its livelihood from the sea.
    Is it near a large lake? Provided the lake's water is not brackish, the normally ongoing quest to bring fresh water into the city from afar would not be a problem and resources could be channeled elsewhere.

    Each of these things, and the conditions they produce, dictate the size, architecture, art, design, and many more aspects of a city. Lastly, a city's location, unless it's a modern new city, will probably be near a river, a lake, a bay, or a natural harbor like Hong Kong or San Francisco

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