I created this rather simple map way back in February. It started off with me hastily cobbling together a backstory for my Dragonborn Warlord (a character class, not a self-imposed title), Cassius Mero. I needed a reason to argue why a refined, pompous nobleman would find himself in the middle of a decrepit backwater with naught but a single bodyguard in his ancillary. And so, seeking to bedazzle my fellow players (and convince them my character was more than just a pompous brat), I devised the Twelve Duchies, a blend of the medieval, central-European fiefdoms (what would become known as the Holy Roman Empire during Barbarossa's reign) and the Italian city-states, but with a healthy dose of magic and dragons added to the mix.
At the time of our campaign's setting, the Duchies where on the verge of civil war, with the rebelious North slowly heading towards full scale militarisation, while the Loyalist South braced themselves for uncertain days to come. My young Warlord, having been sent by his father to secure aid from Emperor Nerox the 5th in the Imperial City, stumbled upon the Hamlet of Loudwater, unaware of the journey he would embark upon, or those that would join him.
As my part of the Neroxean Empire (I didn't pick the name) was the only part that included a tangible map, most of my fellow players ended up devising their backstories around different parts of the Duchies. What I intended to be two or three sessions in my character's homeland, turned out to be the basis for the better part of our campaign, comprising 9 out of the 12 sessions and a bloody civil war that changed the outlook of most of our characters in one way or another. As of the 10th session, Cassius was crowned as the Duke of Vydenmark, his home Duchy. With 2 sessions left to go, I anxiously hope the young Warlord can once again unite the squabbling Duchies, and bring an end to the seemingly senseless bloodshed. Although the way my GM puts it, not everything is always as it seems...
I created this rather basic map, for the most part, with paint.net. I have to admit that at the time I did not use brushes to add the trees or mountains, instead opting to individually craft clusters of forest and mountain range to give a less copied-and-pasted look. In retrospect, I should've made the massive indicator names a bit smaller and added detail such as roads, cities and forts. But my GM is to be commended for making the most of what he had.
Apologies in advance if the image didn't come through properly.