Friday, February 28, 2014

Cleric Sage Studies IV

Three more down, five more to go for the cleric.  It is good to remember, as I said on Tuesday, that this is something that can be refined with use, as players think of questions to ask and the specifics of each study/accomplishment are hammered out.


Amateur:  identify from reference, know acts
Authority:  know if living or dead, know location, key abilities and resources, retell detailed myths
Expert:  identify associates, recognize heroic traits
Sage:  sense accomplishments in the bearing of others, location or destination of a hero’s soul upon death

Recognizing a hero’s name from a reference about something someone did is simply, “Ah, that was so-and-so.”  Knowing an act does not mean knowing the whole tale; Hercules killed the lernean hydra.  How?  That requires an authority.

Knowing the present location of a hero means only generally; the location where a hero will go upon death, or where a dead hero has gone (Elysium, Heaven, Happy Hunting Grounds) is a deeper, more profound knowledge.  Key abilities would be what a hero was able to do, or what resources (magic items) they possessed.  Associates are living people who aided or knew the hero, if that is possible—it wouldn’t be if the hero were long dead.

Recognizing heroic traits in others would be knowing from communication that an individual’s ability, or level perhaps, was far in excess of appearance.  Sensing accomplishments does not give details about what was done, only that the individual has clearly mastered something great (if they have), though that may not have been made known.


Amateur:  empires, wars
Authority:  biographies of great figures, events, regions
Expert:  biographies of lesser figures, cultures, diplomacy, trends
Sage:  conspiracies, plots, subversive diplomacy

History is not limited to times long past—even something that happened last week is still ‘history.’  The lesser historian may be consigned to details, persons or moments of change, but the greater historian begins to see sweeping trends (which would be what regions seem to have meant to do, or are meaning to do) or even be aware of conspiracies that lie behind the visage of what everyone else sees.

I expect this study, and what can be known at what level, to evolve considerably as the study is employed.

Law & Customs

Amateur:  civil laws, local criminal laws
Authority:  capital crimes, cultural moralisms and practices
Expert:  business law, property law, tariffs, taxes, trade
Sage:  jurisprudence, precedents, settlement making

Knowing local criminal laws are those that typically pertain to the lowest class, and presuppose the character having had time to investigate ... ie., a day or two.  Civil laws are those regarding assault, minor destruction of property, slander, etc.

Capital crimes are more widely distributed, and are those for which death, amputation or an imprisonment of years is involved—which vary in detail according to how heavy is the penalty and how action is affected by religion or morality.

Business law et al allows a useful knowledge of the right amount to pay, the right palms to grease, the right manner of setting up a business, or knowing where and the means to obtain permits, etc.

Jurisprudence is to argue the meaning and scope of the law itself, why it was created or how it came to be.  Precedents allows a court trial to be dismissed or reduced to a lesser crime, something that would probably require a wisdom check to invoke (half wisdom or less to suspend, wisdom to reduce sentence, failure of check to have no effect on trial).  Settlement making would be the cleric having the wherewithal to settle a dispute amicably between others simply on the basis of knowing how others in the past have faced a similar quandary.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Cleric Sage Studies III

This is only two more studies, but the secret with these things is not to push too hard and become drained.  It is exhausting creative work to come up with a framework for study after study, and between all the classes with sage skills I have a lot of this to do.


Amateur:  define morality, distinguish good and evil
Authority:  name and exact location of principal worshipper, recognize ritual, know myth
Expert:  judge belief, know god’s general purpose, recognize intervention
Sage:  know god’s immediate purpose

Gods are distinguished from demi-gods as follows:  gods are not knowable in the sense of possessing personalities, failings or compulsions; they do not have a ‘location,’ nor any corporeal form that can be conceived.  Gods are outside the ordinary construct of existence, even that of the outer planes.  Therefore, knowledge in this study relates to greater ‘truth,’ rather than the movement or conflicts occurring between lesser immortals.  Gods do not need to worry if their cults survive or if their worshippers are persecuted, and are therefore more concerned with a wider view of all existence.  Another way to think of it is that demi-gods occupy the planes of existence; gods create the planes of existence.

I have very few gods.  There is the Christian god, the Mohammedan god, Shiva ... and beyond that, perhaps one or two of the old gods of Cthulhu.

Defining morality means knowing absolutely whether or not something is right or wrong; the other players, or characters, and their opinions don’t matter.  The cleric KNOWS for a fact that something is wrong.  Distinguishing between good and evil can be accomplished when encountering a dilemna between moral paths (not physical ones).  The cleric, of course, is not constrained by their knowledge.

The principal worshipper of any god is of course a public figure, unlike the leader of a demi-god’s cult.  The location is up to the moment, as the cleric  has insight into where they would be at a given time of year, or according to rituals that manage the lives of such persons.  Recognizing rituals includes wider knowledge of why it is being performed, what time of year it occurs and what the ritual is meant to accomplish.  Know myth is to call upon a story about the god that may relate to something that is occurring now.

Judging belief is to determine or detect the amount of piety in a follower of their god.  Knowing the god’s general purpose would be for the long term, perhaps the next ten years, as changes occur in an area; knowing the immediate purpose might reveal a prophet that is just coming to light, the imminent occurrence of a war or pogrom, or similar changes to the religious landscape.  Recognizing an intervention would be any moment where the god’s direct influence has, say, changed a die roll, caused something to appear or otherwise changed the ongoing fabric of reality in some specific way.

Heraldry, Signs & Sigils

Amateur:  royal heraldry, regional heraldry, standard motifs
Authority:  artisan’s sigils, noble heraldry
Expert:  decipher coded sigil, heraldry of noted families, recognize glyph
Sage:  heraldry of secret societies, meaning behind glyphs

Indicates primarily what the cleric would recognize regarding the images that appear in dress, upon buildings, on items or elsewhere.   The knowledge does not enable to cleric to automatically find such things, but only to interpret them once they have been seen.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Cleric Sage Studies II

Adding four more studies to the clerical sage tables; this is going to take a long time; I'm setting myself a goal of accomplishing at least a few a day.  It's harder, however, as I recognize there will need to be descriptions added to the actual knowledge acquired.

Including newly written descriptions of both Artifacts and Astronomy & Astrology in the below content (Art & Music is, for the moment, fairly straight-forward, and can wait):


Amateur:  recognition of artifacts and items of magic
Authority:  capability (melee, magic, etc.), implementation (sans result), regional origin
Expert:  identify minor power (sans specifics), origin story, purpose of creation, previous user
Sage:  identify primary power, identify special condition, name of creator

Implementation (sans result) would mean that the cleric knew enough to make the artifact function, but not enough to say what the artifact actually does.  Knowledge of features is limited to the number of multiples of 10 the cleric possesses.  If the cleric has 50 points, say, and chooses to use all 5 possible pieces of knowledge to define all the minor powers, the cleric cannot then also know the regional origin, or how the artifact functions, or its purpose of creation.

Astronomy & Astrology

Amateur:  navigate by stars, recognize heavens, superior use of a telescope
Authority:  calculate date & time, read & design birth chart
Expert:  predict cosmic events; read daily astrological charts
Sage:  detect invisibility; recognize non-terrestrial life

Navigation describes the proper use of a sextant, and not direction of a ship over seas—though  the cleric working with an experienced sailor together would satisfy a ship’s navigational requirement.  Recognizing the heavens means knowing the stars and constellations by sight.  Superior use would mean having a keen sense of detail when  using a telescope.

A birth-chart would offer both role-playing opportunities and perhaps might encourage the DM to tweak a character’s abilities very slightly upon being ‘read.’  Daily astrological charts might offer tweaks to circumstances or modifiers to die rolls.  Actual charts pulled from the internet would serve as a basis for the character’s ability (it’s all nonsense in reality anyway, so today’s chart would serve for describing a particular day 400 years ago).

Non-terrestrial life, obviously, looks perfectly normal to everyone else.


Amateur:  identify creature
Authority:  identify special power; probable origin
Expert:  estimate strength of main attack; identify weakness
Sage:  define strength of any attacks; estimate health; identify name; recognize associates

Beasts are magical, non-traditional creatures that are conjured from other planes of existence or which have come about through accident, chance or malevolence.   The knowledge does not include beings that once had souls, such as demons, devils, angels or seraphim, nor gods and god-like creatures, nor past heroes, nor undead, nor humanoids, nor beings that are constructed such as homonculi or golems.  Typical beasts would be basilisks, chimera, dragons, lamia, manticores, owlbears, umberhulks, unicorns, violet fungi, xorn, yellow musk creepers and so on.  These are all presumed to have a wide range of characteristics that may deviate far from the traditional Monster Manual, so it should be kept in mind that book is not a final authority.


Amateur:  identify name, sphere of power
Authority:  geographical origin, practices, spread of followers
Expert:  identify demi-god’s purpose or plan, persecutions of followers, planar origin
Sage:  means to communicate with demi-god, name and probable location of principal worshipper, signs of direct supernatural intervention

Sphere of power would be the god’s particular strength (nature, the sea, animals, healing, etc.).  Geographical origin refers to the place where worship of the god began, as spread of followers indicates where they are strongest right now.  Both the purpose and plan are knowable as one unit, as is the name and probable location of the principle worshipper (in Catholicism, this would be the Pope).  Planar origin of the demi-god would define, say, which of nine planes of Hell the god occupies, and possible other locations within the ethereal, astral or prime material planes.  Persecution of followers is knowledge of what pogroms other religions might be pursuing against the worshippers of this particular demi-god.

One piece of knowledge may be known about any particular demi-god per 10 points of study.


Amateur:  obtain the best means of divining or locating knowledge desired.
Authority:  insight into question for best results; recruit aid.
Expert:  clarify one meaning; gain suggested course of action
Sage:  clarify full meaning

The knowledge does not convey the ability to divine supernatural knowledge, but rather to pursue the best course in obtaining such knowledge, and interpretation of same.  Actual divination requires a spell of some kind.

Obtaining the best means would be to know whether augury, divination, a wish, numerology, astrology, the tarot or some other means of divination is the best means towards the desired end; this might even include knowing where to go without the need to cast a spell or perform a meditative practice.  Insight into the question presumes that, since the DM knows the answer, the player might gain knowledge from the DM as to how to best word the question the player wishes to ask (which may yet not in itself provide the full answer).  Note the DM does not provide the actual question, only the best wording.

Recruiting aid means knowing where diviners might be, or what cities that would be worth journeying to, or even where in the town a desired individual may be who could help.  Clarifying a meaning would be explaining a deliberately vague or incomprehensible reference.  A course of action would be how to best act right now towards resolving the riddle of the divined knowledge.

Full meaning is considered to cost the cleric’s entire knowledge points, and will not include knowledge of the best course of action.


Amateur:  identify manifestations
Authority:  guess purpose of manifestation, note evidence of manifestations, recognize gate within line-of-sight, utilize gate
Expert:  identify gate destination, locate gate within 800 yards, recognize hidden manifestation
Sage:  guess last time gate used, locate gate within 4 miles

Manifestations are creatures that were once alive, have lost the soul they once possessed or the soul has since translated to another plane of existence.  Manifestations include undead, demons, devils, angels, translated heroes, valkyries, frost maidens and most intelligent humanoid-like dwellers of other planes.  Such manifestations may be hidden, such as in possession of a living creature or in a form that would normally escape detection.  Take note that ‘recognition’ is not detection; it is the power to know what a thing is once it’s evil, or other evidence, has been detected.

Identifying a manifestation means to have a name to give to the form, once the manifestation is seen.  Noting evidence of manifestations is done by having found places where undead and other creatures have passed, and thus recognizing that passage.  This does not work as a detection spell.  Guesses provide approximate knowledge, so that rather than saying something happened at midnight three days ago, the knowledge would be given as, ‘three or four days ago.’

Gates within line-of-sight can be directly approached and utilized.  Gates can be located by experts and sages by methodically moving towards a disturbance that they are able to detect.  This is a slow process, allowing a movement of no more than 10’ per round while attempting to locate.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

New Sage Tables, Starting with Cleric

Okay, something new.  Something other than maps.

I am more than aware that I need desperately to get my sage skills concept in better order, while attempts the last few years to do so have been inadequate or misconceived.  I think at last I have a simple solution, and one that can be tweaked over time, particularly with the help of the players.  The initial construction of the rules are going to be hell, however.  That was predictable.  What I like about it now is that a) it clearly defines what a player can know; b) it offers a decision-making angle for the player; and c) as the players think of questions to ask, the question types can be fitted into the existing system, upgrading it steadily.

Here is the rule I've done some work on since yesterday:


A field is a sphere of activity or interest that covers a wide range of knowledge. Each field is comprised of specialties, which are distinctive lines of inquiry or interest. Possible specialties which the cleric does not choose are called studies. Studies within the cleric’s field are called field studies, and those outside the field are called non-field studies.

For example, from the list below, a cleric chooses ‘The Church’ as their field and ‘history’ as their specialty. This would mean that heraldry (etc.), politics & geneology and religious architecture would all be ‘field studies.’ All the other possible subjects, such as art & music, heroes or divination, would be ‘non-field studies.”

Clerics possess four fields: The Church, Legends & Folklore, Power and Theology. The studies within these fields are listed below:

The Church: 1) heraldry, signs & signals; 2) history; 3) politics & geneology; 4) religious architecture
Legends & Folklore: 1) artifacts; 2) beasts; 3) demi-gods; 4) gods; 5) heroes
Power: 1) divination; 2) dweomercraft; 3) medicine; 4) the outer planes
Theology: 1) art & music; 2) astronomy & astrology; 3) law & customs; 4) philosophy & ethics

At 1st level, clerics gain one field, and one specialty within that field. This reflects the knowledge that the cleric was able to gather while studying their religion within monasteries and libraries. This knowledge is then expanded as the cleric increases in level, for it is presumed that the cleric is naturally inquisitive, glancing through books, chatting with other persons along roads or at the inn, even if the character never expresses their intention to gather knowledge.

The knowledge is measured by points, awarded to all possible studies, though in different amounts. The cleric’s chosen specialty is awarded 12 points; each field study is awarded 1d8, which the cleric rolls; and non-field studies are each awarded 1d4.

Upon gaining a level, the cleric increases all non-field studies by 1d4; field studies by 1d8; and specialties (for later on the cleric gains others) by 1d12.

At 5th level, and every four levels thereafter (9th, 13th, 17th, etc.), the cleric gains an additional specialty from the cleric’s field studies (that is, within the cleric’s present field). At that point, the cleric begins rolling a d12 for additional level gains in that specialty. Suppose that a given field study rated 15 points at 4th level, the cleric having rolled 4d8 up until then. At 5th, the cleric chooses that study as a new specialty; a d12 is then rolled (for gaining a level) and added to the original 15.

At 7th level, and every six levels thereafter (13th, 19th and 25th), the cleric gains an additional field. All the studies in that field henceforth become field studies, and increase at 1d8 per level. Clerics may choose additional specialties from any field they possess.

For every 10 points of a cleric possesses in any study, the cleric is entitled to one piece of knowledge about persons, places, objects, creatures, living things or features, the exact knowledge depending upon a) the chosen study; and b) the competence of the cleric.

Competence is graded as follows: possessing 10-19 points in a study defines an enthusiastic amateur; possessing 20-39 points defines an authority; possessing 40-79 points defines an expert; and having 80 points or more defines a sage.

The questions that can be answered, depending upon one’s competence, are listed below. Note that knowledge is not meant to provide any special ability or power. It is employment of knowledge, not the knowledge itself, that offers power through the creation of tactical planning. Some of the below studies, such as astrology. will offer minor skills gained from continued study.

Art & music
Amateur: century of creation, continental origin, means of creation
Authority: name of the creator, quality, regional origin, meaning of symbolism
Expert: monetary value, social importance of work
Sage: hidden qualities, magical relationships

Amateur: recognition of artifacts and items of magic
Authority: capability (melee, magic, etc.), implementation (sans result), regional origin
Expert: identify minor power (sans specifics), origin story, purpose of creation, previous user
Sage: identify primary power, identify special condition, name of creator

Astronomy & Astrology
Amateur: navigate by stars, recognize heavens, superior use of a telescope
Authority: calculate date & time, read & design birth chart
Expert: predict cosmic events; read daily astrological charts
Sage: detect invisibility; recognize non-terrestrial life

(... more to follow)

That is only three topics out of seventeen possible for the cleric ... and then there's a host more for the druid, mage and illusionist to be done.  Please keep in mind that this blog is for ongoing work.  As such, I am certainly interested in feedback or the need to clarify the above rules.  If anyone has any additional questions for the three topics listed (I'll post as I work on additional topics) then shout them out.  I won't use every suggestion, but I'm certainly interested in considering anything thrown out.

As I said, the games themselves that I run will provide plenty of ideas, I'm sure.

Oh, I should add that at the end, a page with all 17 studies will need to be added to characters, so that all the point values can be generated, then increased every time a level is gained.  There's no knowledge that can be gained from having less than 10 points of a subject, but by 2nd to 4th level, a cleric would probably acquire a number of possible topics to inquire about.

Around the B-Ring

I have been working on maps, but there hasn't been much time to post them.  On Saturday, I got completely around the world (with the B-Ring).  So here are those maps (note the pretty maps are on the bottom):

The eastern extension of Baffin island, which comprises no more than isolated villages.  Like
most of these maps, this will look much more familiar when the coast line is added. 
Across the Davis Strait from Baffin, this is the first real coastline that's emerged since Russia.  This
is the west coast of Greenland, which looks busy - but remember the hexes are 20 miles wide
and are therefore still mostly empty.  The three pink hexes on the far right represent a
piece of Greenland's east coast.
This is the Denmark Strait between the east coast of Greenland and Iceland.  That's Iceland on the
right.  The orange line is the 30th parallel west, and the remaining bits are the east coast of
Greenland.  Nearly all the way around.
And this is the east end of Iceland.  I'm not sure what that bit is higher up, left of centre; I'm fairly certain
it's Greenland stretching towards the east.  Jan Mayan land, for those who might be interested,
should be somewhere on the right hand side - but it has no permanent habitation, so
until I create coastlines for this map, it won't appear.
And this is the coast of Norway above Tromso, with part of Sweden to boot.  This part HAS been
made, and what a difference.  I remember how nasty was that coastline when I drew it - and then again
when I upgraded this map.
This, of course, is northern Finland, Sweden and Norway, with part of the Kola Peninsula of Russia.
The eastern shoreline around the White Sea is mostly occupied by an Elven Kingdom, Ulthua,
while northern Sweden is dominated by Gnomes.  But its a comfort that the left areas on this map,
Lansi, Nordland and Angermanland, are parts of human Sweden and Norway.
Last map; this is mostly the Gnoll Kingdom of Bjarmaland, divided between Glu'Bak, Gaa'Kaa and
Yak'Margug.  As a reminder, the darker gray areas are barren mountains, the lighter gray are
barren tundra and the yellow are muskeg swamps.  Jotunheim, at the top, is mythically
the Kingdom of the Frost Giants.  I haven't had anyone visit yet.

Going all the way around the world, then, that's 18 maps in the B-Ring.  The C-Ring will have 24.  Which is to say I haven't hardly begun to add maps ... but most of the ones above did not take much time, just plotting the few occupied hexes on a big empty nothing.  The coastlines for those will take MUCH longer.

Remember that these are pretty big maps - 600 miles by 700.  Yet it takes many dozens to even map the upper part of the globe. Thankfully, much of the globe is covered by empty ocean, which does not require detailed coastlines or even islands.  The B-Ring is, I think, the only one where all the way around the globe there are no sea-only maps.

But of course I'll have to see.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Empty Maps in Canada

So little to show, so little to show.  Was working heavily on my book last night.  Worse, I am working my way across northern Canada, which is sadly bereft of inhabitation:

It's very difficult even to imagine what part of the world this might be.  In fact, it is an area called
the Barren Grounds, stretching across what was once the Districts of Mackenzie and Keewatin,
 largely taken up by Nunavut today.  Empty.  Staggeringly empty. 

And this ... the 90th Parallel west, which would be approximately the north-west shore of Hudson Bay,
which I can use the European name for because it was discovered 40 years before the time of my world.  The map
(I think) would also include part of Baffin Island, along with Foxe Basin and the island of Southampton.
I wonder what on earth a party would be doing here?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

City Workbooks, with Maps B-11 & B-12

There are a couple of maps further down, that I'm adding as I continue to work my way east around the world, between 62 and 73 degrees north. First, I've been doing some prep work for Spain, with the expectation of mapping it, and a very little bit of research work for Britain (specifically Ireland); those files can be found on the wiki.

A lot of the work I do has no immediate sexy impact, which is part of the reason I wanted to start this blog. I wanted to give a sense for how much time some of these things take, plus the fairly worthless way I spend my life (heh heh).

I admit that I probably do spend too much time mapmaking, when I could be working on redesigning the spells or characters like I was last year, or getting myself together to get work done on upgrading the monsters - but heck, I like maps. So here they are:
Here is the 60-degree turn in the hex map that matches the 150th Parallel west (or as I call it, 210 E).  This cuts
right through the middle of Alaska.  The square in the upper left is the previous map, B-10, overlapping.  The
top of the map would be the Beaufort Sea.

A dismal map, for certain.  Only the left side of the map is actually taken up by the Yukon territory.  The
drift of inhabited hexes (pink) from the bottom right to top middle follows the giant Mackenzie River, which
I'll end up calling something else for my D&D world ... if I ever figure out just what lives here.
A lot of big animals, probably.  And maybe stone giants.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Tunguska III & East

Over the weekend, apart from other activities, I worked on the five maps below.  I'll write some notes for each to help them make sense:

Tunguska, completed.

Immediately east of Tunguska, the Arctic Ocean coast has been added to the top of the map;
The large white vertical area in the centre is the Verkhoyansk Range in Siberia, known to be one
of the coldest places on earth. 

The diagonal rectangle in the upper left is where the Verkhoy map overlaps this one, which has the
150th East parallel through the center.  The map turns 60 degrees at is point.  The cluster of pink
hexes on the left is the Indigirka River basin; the cluster of pink hexes on the right is the
Kolyma River basin, the largest source of gold in the world outside of South Africa.

This seems very much like a group of scattered dots, I know; this is east of the Indigirka/Kolyma basins
(the Kolyma River debouches into the Arctic where there's a cluster of pink hexes at the top left).
On a map, you might be able to identify this with the narrowing of the eastern stretch of Siberia
between Kamchatka and the Arctic Sea.

This is the meeting between the far eastern point of Siberia and Alaska.  Alaska is on the right, and the
coastline for it can be dimly grasped if you're familiar with it.  The extension of Russia is more clear,
mostly because (I think) Russia was more adamant about settling people in forced camps along
the Bering Sea, where today they exist as a string of fishing villages.

I grant, not the most interesting of maps.  It does give a sense for how BIG the empty stretches of Siberia really are ... and that even at this latitude, it takes 18 maps at 20 miles a hex, and 30 hexes a map, to go around the world.  I'm always struck by how truly big the whole world is, and how much of a task I took on in daring to map it to this scale.  Still, it's a labour of love, so it's all good.

For awhile longer I'm going to be making this sort of map, just tagging the individual hexes for the data I have for each, as it helps with both my organization and setting something up on the fly, if needed.  In awhile I'll be swinging back around to Europe and then moving one map ring south.

(Incidentally, as an aside, the bottom of these maps is about 62.5 degrees north).

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Coastline Mapping

Cooked this up today to demonstrate the technique I use for making the coastlines on my hex maps, those I've been posting all week:

Friday, February 14, 2014

Tunguska II

So, I should put up an old picture of what Tunguska had looked like, before changes:

Funny that, formerly, I liked the strong colors ... but since, I've changed my mind about it.  Gets to be hard looking on the eyes.

Here's today's image, after the work done since posting yesterday:

The right half of the map, where it is white, would represent the western edge of Yakutia, or 'Yakutsk' as the RISK board calls it.  This is the border between what I've mapped and what I haven't ... so that much of this map, all that which is right of the hard gray line down the middle, has no work done on it at all except that I've identified with numbers what hexes would be inhabited.  Extending this further eastward is the goal for the next two weeks, so this new blog is going to be awfully boring for most people (I'm not getting much feedback, but I can't blame the reader).  I think in the long run, if I keep this up for several years (which would be the plan), the pile of data will get quite meaningful ... so I'm not worrying right now that all I'm adding are some empty maps of a pretty obscure part of the globe.

For those who really can't picture where this above is (and let's face it, that is virtually everyone), I'll offer these two maps.  First, an image of approximately the same area, gained from Google:

Yeah, no doubt that is TOTALLY not helpful.  Also, the features don't quite match up, but I've said many times, my world is only 'like' earth ... the rivers sometimes have a different shape.  Still, the small lake in the middle is recognizable and so is that bit of the sea at the top of the map.  I didn't include that big pond at the top left, though, because the map I originally worked from (a National Geographic map) didn't show it.  Perhaps its something we know about now, post cold war (I've caught the N.G. being wrong before), or perhaps it's a case of a section of permafrost melting due to global warming (which I've also seen when comparing old and new maps).  Either way, I'm probably not going to add it to my game map.  Or I might.

Perhaps this might help the reader get their bearings:

Is that better?  Can we see where we are now?  Granted, the bigger map shows a lot of 'Tunguska' is in fact west of the map above (in fact, the principal knot of Tunguska is off the above map altogether), but it sounded like a better name than 'West Central Yakutsk.'  Believe me, if you do a lot of maps of a world, you want to stay away from calling everying North That and East This.  After awhile, it gets confusing.  Best to have a code tag for every map (Tunguska is B 06) just to keep everything straight.

Okay, I'm going to let go of this post; I'm going to write a bit more on the main blog, however, so you might want to have a glance at that.

Thursday, February 13, 2014


I'm starting a new map today, the next one over that's directly east of the Lower Yenisey map I've been working on. This one is called Tunguska. I want to start with my hex map template, and these can be downloaded from the wiki. These are 30 squares by 35, making for a nice big map, and if you use your Microsoft Office editor for pictures you can pare off the white space so that they can be overlapped to make even bigger maps. Beware of printing them, however, because the hexes are almost an inch in diameter, so the hex map will be multiple sheets if printed. Here's a png of the hex map (the boxes on the file are without borders, so the boxes won't appear:

Even though I darkened the hexes quite a lot, they're still dim - I prefer the hex lines to be quite soft, because in fact this makes the colors of the map seem brighter and the overall effect more aesthetically pleasing. I feel its important that things like this look good, as we're naturally drawn, and thus fascinated, to things that are easy to stare at.

For my own use, I prefer the hexes be colored pink to start, as pink is very definitely a color that doesn't appear anywhere on the map when I'm done ... thus, I can easily see what I haven't changed or fixed.

The first thing I do with a new map is first include a two-hex overlap for areas that have been previously upgraded. Thus, in this map of Tunguska, the previous done parts are the lines at the top (north) and of course west (Lower Yenisey):

Here is some sincere advice: overlap your maps. Don't just draw them so they synch up along the edges; overlapping them will help with continuity from map to map, and will better the experience of being able to look at only one map at a time, and not needed to pull out two or four sheets when the party happens to be at the corner of the map you've drawn. Overlap them! Well, it's not much, but that hex map should be useful to some of you. More tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Earth Hex Plotting

This finishes the reformat, so that the color scheme and hex reshape has been completed:

At some future point I'll take another pass at this and insert more descriptive labels and properly layer the elements.  Recently I've just been interested in trying to sort out old work and plot all the maps as they would appear everywhere on the globe.  This is a big task, one that I'm not going to complete anytime soon.

I tend to go at my world in phases, so that for a couple of weeks I will work on just one thing to the exclusion of all else.  The blog won't just be about maps, that just happens to be what I'm doing at the moment.

There is something I wanted to show.  These files are the backbone of my map building system. Here's a shot showing partial Rings 66, 67 & 68:

The reader can compare this to the map above. Note the numbers at the right side of the map; these are the ring numbers. Two rows down form line 65 is line 67 ... and there one can see the numbers from the image above, all of them showing '104.'  On the image, the numbers next to Ring 67 show "(70.48-70.76)" are the latitude numbers. The numbers that read in three columns, "90.45 to 91.33", are the longitude numbers east of Greenwich.

Now, this is important. Any hex with a river will show the LOWEST number. Thus these are all 104, even though the lines read 104-269, 104-265, 204-656 and so on. 269, 265 & 656 are the highest elevations those hexes possess (that I have data for).

This next part is tricky. It will seem to the reader that there's been an error; that there should be a '98' to the left of the string of 104 elevation hexes with the river in it. But here's where the hexes change the game. BECAUSE the world is round, and because the center is a hex, every 60 degrees all around the globe the map must 'bend' to fit. This map of the Lower Yenisey includes that bend.

Note that the left most 104 hex corresponds to the longitued 89.55 to 90.44. That's the 90th Parallel, where the map bends. The bend is shown on the map above by the orange line. That is why, in fact, the '98' elevation hex (longitude 88.66 to 89.54) is UP and to the left - and shows '108' on the map, because it doesn't contain a river so the HIGHEST number is used.

I know that's not very clear, but it all makes perfect sense to me. I've been doing this for awhile. If you want to get it, and it's just not evident, please ask a question and I'll do what I can to get this across to you.

My point is from the linked files above (those that go to my wiki), that the whole world is already plotted. I know what is in every hex, everywhere, and what latitude and longitude anywhere corresponds to what hex. This is what makes the mapping possible, and helps keep everything straight and controlled.

Is this beyond normal D&D mapmaking? Oh yeah. But frankly, I think this would make for a spectacular computer generated environment scheme, if I had the money to make it. Imagine a computer image of every elevation, world-wide, plotted using these tables, then merely 'adjusted' for aesthetics. Google Earth would be helpful for that.

But really, I'm not interested in Google Earth for mapping purposes. Google Earth is pretty and lovely, but it doesn't offer me the control that this template offers, where I can plop in what I want and create the 3D world that is my own.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Lower Yenisey II

A day's work on the Lower Yenisey map:

This is far from anywhere; Biyetia is part of the goblin kingdom of Magloshkagok.  Samoyadia is a gnoll kingdom
far to the north on the Arctic Ocean.  Lungos Nad is an extension of the Vostoch Empire, a vast hobgoblin
collective occupying what we would call Irkutsk, Krasnoyarsk and the Tomsk Oblast.  Finally, Nissi An
is an obscure, reclusive Bugbear tribal enclave occupying the Tunguska Plateau.  What a place for a party!

Adding a few labels, finishing the rivers and some of the hex fill.  Still need to redraw the borders (orange lines) in gray, then make sure the different elements are layered correctly (text over water features, water features over border, everything over background, etc.