Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Bit of Cartography, Eh?

Greetings, Readers!

I'm heading into a long weekend with my amazing wife, Anna (@FELTit on the Twitters), and thought I'd leave you with a little mapping inspiration for the weekend, since I don't know how internet dark I'll end up being (it's Scott's Bluff, Nebraska, so who knows).

If you've read my blog for long, you'll remember that I'm the DM for a couple of games now, and both of those games are set in a world called Gaia.  Right now, the two different gaming groups are gaming in separate parts of the continent (called, unsurprising enough) the Shattered Continent.  

The first gaming group, The Dead Orcs Society, games in the region that was formerly the Kingdom of Renard.  After the Rendering, the kingdom fell apart (the capital is now a ruin), and all that remains are various city-states.   It is into this land that I shoehorned the Nentir Vale region described in the 4th Edition Dungeon Master's Guide. Take a look at the map, you'll see some familiar names (do click on the graphic for a larger image):

My second group, which has fewer players, is called my Small Group (they have yet to decide on a name for themselves).  The land they adventure in is a bit further south, and is called Florence.  It's government managed to stay more or less intact after the Rendering, but many areas were destroyed.  The various towns and villages all swear fealty to the king, but pretty much run things as they like, locally.  The adventures placed here are from the Chaos Scar series presented by Wizards of the Coast.  I've only used the adventures, and sort of a unifying hook.  In my campaign, there is no real "Chaos Scar region").  Here's what Florence looks like (again with the clicky for the biggie):

I don't really count cartography as being in my skill set.  I use a number of different online tools to construct the basics for my maps, then use Macromedia's Fireworks to add additional features and text.  For these maps, I used an online hex mapping program called Hexographer from Inkwell Ideas.  It's a great program, and really comes in handy for overland mapping!  Once I have the basic terrain down, I import the graphic into Fireworks (I know, I know.  There are better graphics programs out there.  I use Fireworks because I'm comfortable with the tool set).

A good map is invaluable to a DM for helping to set the tone for a campaign.  When I see places on a map, my mind jumps to all the different possibilities the terrain and place names generate.  Whether you're using online tools or just scratching it all down on notebook paper, mapping is a vital part of the DM experience.

Until next time...

Game excellently with one another.

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