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Thread: [Award Winner] Cartographical Economics and Demographics - A Guide to Realism

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  1. #1

    Post [Award Winner] Cartographical Economics and Demographics - A Guide to Realism

    Why is it important to bring economics into your fantasy mapping? Well technically you don’t really need it, but without doing the groundwork, you risk anyone with an analytical mind destroying the credibility of the world you build.

    You may think that your island nation of Pirates may be able to support some of the best military units on your planet, but how feasible is this within your world, this is where working out the economy behind your nations is important.
    Of course, you may explain that in your world, there is magic and money falls from the sky, and this is all well in what is fantasy; perhaps this is not the right document for you. But if you want to be more analytical then read on and you may find a decent way to work out the economy behind your nation.

    Below you will find both the Tutorial (doc) and an Excel Spreadsheet (zip containing xls) I made for reference of formulas when you are building your spreadsheet as it can get complicated without some form of reference.
    Attached Files Attached Files

  2. #2
    Community Leader Facebook Connected Ascension's Avatar
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    Jun 2008
    St. Charles, Missouri, United States


    I'm one of those "anal"yticals so economics is always at the top of my list when world-building. I'll give these a read for sure.
    If the radiance of a thousand suns was to burst at once into the sky, that would be like the splendor of the Mighty One...I am become Death, the Shatterer of worlds.
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  3. #3
    Guild Adept moutarde's Avatar
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    Oct 2009


    Very nice! I know I'll make good use of this info

  4. #4
    Guild Artisan su_liam's Avatar
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    Aug 2007
    Port Alberta, Regina(IRL: Eugene, OR)


    The funny thing about fantasy(and, for this purpose, I include science fiction in this category) cartography, is that you have to know more about the world to pull it off. In the real world the economics and geomorphology kinda... work themselves out. You just map out what is there*. To make a really good map of an imaginary world you really have to build that world.

    Fortunately worldbuilding is my major interest, with cartography just 'cause... you know... who else is going to map my world.

    Thanks for this resource. I will be checking this out in some depth.

    *In theory, anyway. In practice, it can be a real chore to figure out where things actually are sometimes.

  5. #5
    Guild Apprentice
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    Nov 2009


    I'm VERY excited to give this stuff a read.

    I'm in the early stages of my worldbuilding, so this is a perfect time to start thinking about these things.

    Right now I've got some basic countries and landmasses, but that's about it.

    Sadly, my story is almost completely outlined (and in tons of detail), so now the worldbuilding is holding me back. I've got tons of work ahead of me.

    I'm thinking you probably just saved me hours of research though.

  6. #6
    Guild Artisan LonewandererD's Avatar
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    Jun 2009


    I had a skim read through and i must say well done. Repped. *Tried to add rep but need to spread morea round first.

    I love things that help you to create the world, in truth the prosess of creating a new world is the only real reason I'm into cartography. I don't think i'll ever get around to writing any stories in the near future.

    People come and people go. I walk amongst them, I see their faces; but none see mine. I pass them in the streets but nary a glance is spared my way, for what interest would they have in a Wanderer? Not of this world... Forever Alone... Forever Wandering... LoneWandererD...

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  7. #7
    Professional Artist Facebook Connected Coyotemax's Avatar
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    Jul 2009


    Yknow, I don't know what happened to my post. i put in a comment right after ascension, rated and repped, and now the post is missing. this is not the first time I've seen this happen

    Anyhow, nice stuff!

    My finished maps
    "...sometimes the most efficient way to make something look drawn by hand is to simply draw it by hand..."

  8. #8


    Thanks for all the words of approval for my work.

    su_liam - You should save time through using the same process I use. This is why I spent several hours trying to work out a way to use all the different elements to standardize the various economic and demographic elements of the world. I used to just work things out in my head and then once the map was finished I realised that, I had placed to many cities for some countries which was unrealistic for that portion of the world, worked out completely nonsensical statistics, which automatically disheartened me from continuing with that map.

    Now I basically decide the size of that country based on my ideas and then everything else derives from that size and location on the planet and extrapolates to statistics which are consistent across the whole planet.

    Also once you get the hang of using the excel spreadsheet and once you've done one Kingdom correctly you can quickly duplicate the results. I now can work out a whole kingdoms statistics in about 10 mins, something which used to take me several hours normally, and I still came up with inconsistent results.

    FAHall - Its a good thing that you have a lot of the elements decided, I normally also like to have a mental picture of what I'm doing, but I use this system to test the feasibility of I'm doing. Especially since I tend to spurn magic in my world and thus have no other explanation for things.

    The Kingdom Generator also ties up some of the loose ends that would take me a lot of effort to work out. Such as city populations etc that realistically would be very hard to work out by yourself and keep some consistency.

    Anyway I really only documented the key information that is required for you to understand some of the more complex statistics of your nations and realms, and I took this on to understand military dynamics of countries. You could use this information to further understand other sectors of the economy. For example I have been working out how one would calculate the navy of a country, and costing patroling coastlines.

    One could also use the government income and divide it up to understand different sectorial budgets which again you could use to work out whether certain infrastructural improvements and services are sustainable or affordable.

    The importance of doing this kind of background understanding is that subconciously it will shape the story behind your world. For example I shaped three countries in one of my old maps which I used for this tutorial. These countries were the Kingdom of Harran an old Elven Kingdom, The Vasvar Empire, a very powerful human country with vast territories and the Republic of Cavains which I had split from Vasvar ages ago. Through my workings I realised that Cavains could not of survived Vasvar for the several years since independance unless they had military help from Harran. Thus it shaped my story, that Harran and Cavains had struck up an alliance together because of the menace of Vasvar. The astoundingly nice thing about it is that a war between Vasvar and Harran and Cavains would favour Vasvar in terms of numbers and military expenditure, but not by much. Thus the politics of the region have been shaped by understanding that the mere fact that Harran and Cavains exist, must of required them to ally togeher against a mutual enemy. This is a military example, but this is just one area that can be looked at.

    You can literally work out the feasibility of everything. You could work out whether the cost of building 10 castles a year, a 500 meter bridge in the capital, and a golden statue to the gods is feasible. Its all about working out the budgets from income recieved, then looking at the cost elements required in building these things, in similar manner that I did in the military example at the end of my tutorial. I will no doubt cover this in a later tutorial, with an actual example.

    Anyway once you start thinking like this, at least in my experience you wonder how you went without it as everything makes logical sense.

  9. #9
    Guild Journeyer Vorhees's Avatar
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    Nov 2009
    Adelaide, Australia


    this is great thanks Terminal, as im still developing my world this is very handy. (repped)

  10. #10


    I have just finished developing a method of working out navy support limits for countries. This should allow you to conclude how many warships your country is able to support, and it is based on considerably more factors than army size, largely because there are a lot of variables to consider in ship building. I say that it works out the naval limit, because it does not actually tell you how many ships your realm has, this figure will be a number between 0 and the naval limit. The reason for this is because ships unlike men are not so easily replaceable, thus we have to consider that after a naval defeat the actual number of ships remaining may be under this max number, and it requires significant capital and resources to replace that unit. At the start of your campaign one of your countries may have just had such an event thus the number will be below the support limit.

    Anyway once I write it up I think you guys will understand better how I have come up with my conclusions. It will build upon what we have already done by setting up budgets derived from GDP etc.

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