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Thread: Mapping cliches

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  1. #1
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    Default Mapping cliches

    Has anyone ever notcied any particular cliches in maps? For example, one I've noted is that deserts always appear to be in the south (a notable example would be in Narnia), which is a result of the fact that maps are always in the Northern Hemisphere. This also leads to tundra being placed at the top of the map - every time. Isn't fantasy about being creative? Someone should make a map with temperature ranging from east to west! Of course, another one would be similar to "Mordor", a hellish location. Who can list some others?

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    Guild Artisan madcowchef's Avatar
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    Well the largest is up being north, but that's already received plenty of discussion. Volcanoes and evil, but that might just be rewording your mordor comment. Good people live in desirable terrain and bad people in bad terrain. All deserts have to have a ominous heat related name.

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    Guild Adept Slylok's Avatar
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    I always find myself focusing on areas north of the equator as well. I guess that's because it's what i'm most familiar with. Although there have been plenty of worlds on here that people come out with which don't adhere to earth's climates. The eyeball world is my favorite i think.

    One thing i've noticed, and am guilty of, is making maps with tattered, rolled, and torn edges. Can't help it, but I love the look even if it's cliche.

    I think a lot of this comes from our visual/mental libraries we build as we read, watch, and play different types of stories, movies, and games. It's pretty difficult to come up with something completely original these days. Especially since the internet makes sharing ideas and content so easy. I personally just create things on what I think fits and if it's been done before then so be it.

    Good thread! I'm interested to see what other people come up with.
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    Guild Expert Azelor's Avatar
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    I was thinking about the left justified continent like in the Lord of The Ring. I think it's pretty popular.

    I don't really have other clichés in mind but I know where you can find some : Search Results - TV Tropes

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    Guild Journeyer Raptori's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Azelor View Post
    I was thinking about the left justified continent like in the Lord of The Ring. I think it's pretty popular.
    I've never understood why that's called left justified - personally I'd call it "right aligned" if I were going for a type analogy. "Justified" text in design means taking up the full width of the area. "Left" justified means unfilled lines are aligned to the left. Left justified is the most common form of justified text, and is usually referred to as merely "justiefied", as per this image:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    As you can see from that image, the alignment that appears most similar to the LOTR map is Right Align.

  6. #6
    Community Leader Gracious Donor - Max -'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Azelor View Post
    I was thinking about the left justified continent like in the Lord of The Ring. I think it's pretty popular.
    What is a cliche for some people may not be one for some others. I think this is rather a cliche for western european people, which build fictionnal maps influenced by their own territory, with lands on east and ocean on east. Not sure it would be a cliche for asian people for instance.

  7. #7

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    Oh oh I have some:

    City maps in fantasy settings with lots of magic and flying intellogent damgerous creatures... Why do they have city walls? I mean magic alone snuffs that defense... It's like earth history trumps the internal logic of the fantasy world because we weren't creative enough to imagine a truly fantastical city that fits into our magical realm...

    Another cliche for fantasy world maps that I have noticed is the overly tied cultural to terrain type bs. Oh a desert is here, so the culture has to change... Oh forest here so the culture (and of course place name style) has to change. That is total bull****. Cultures above tribe level (but not even most tribes, tbh) do not stop at drastic changes of climate/terrain except when relatively impassable.

    Oh one more thing i notice at city level gain and again, fantasy or reality based... COMPLETE and utter disregard for... The source of... Water?? Where are the aquaducts? Cisterns? Etc?
    Last edited by Dearmad; 05-01-2014 at 08:32 PM.

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    Those are all valid points, and I really agree with the climate part; why should a new culture spring up whenever the climate changes? The Romans conquered everything from the Sahara to what's now Denmark and the climate didn't stop them spreading their culture.

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    Community Leader Gracious Donor - Max -'s Avatar
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    I spotted one more :

    Quote Originally Posted by Dearmad View Post
    Oh oh I have some:
    City maps in fantasy settings with lots of magic and flying intellogent damgerous creatures... Why do they have city walls? I mean magic alone snuffs that defense... It's like earth history trumps the internal logic of the fantasy world because we weren't creative enough to imagine a truly fantastical city that fits into our magical realm...
    Does a fantasy setting have necessarily to rely on heavy magic?
    Last edited by - Max -; 05-13-2014 at 05:55 AM.

  10. #10
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    Why does it have to have cities then? Why does it even have to settlements or human beings or be in a European style setting? Why can't it be a completely alien planet? But why does it have to be alien? Why can't it be some point in earth's history veiled by magic? But why magic?

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