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Map Attack!

"I wanna hang a map of the world in my house. Then I'm gonna put pins into all the locations that I've traveled to. But first, I'm gonna have to travel to the top two corners of the map so it won't fall down.” 
- Frederic P. Miller

To me, the coolest part about any foreign realm (and the real life ones) are the maps.  Even when I was a child, my favorite part of going to the zoo was getting the huge fold out map that showed where all the animals were, among other things.  Something about maps just kind of lets the imagination run wild.  And so, as I grew older, I began to map out my own realms.

Tolkien really inspired me.  I was in 5th grade and was reading The Hobbit, and it was such a completely different book from everything that I had ever read.  Everything about it blew me away.  Up until that point, I spent most of 5th grade reading The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander (The Black Cauldron, ect).  Both had awesome maps.  The cool part about Prydain is that every book had a different map.  It would expand upon some areas or mark new locations based on where the characters would go.  I always enjoyed that, as it made me feel as though I never really knew how large the world really was.

In high school, I began creating a world with some friends.  The world never became official, and it stalled to quite the hiatus until I started DMing.  Once I started playing, I knew that I wanted to create and play in my own world as opposed to playing in another created world.  And so my friends and I began drafting a new world, with new cities and locations that had been named.  A few months into the game, their interest kind of stalled, and I was left DMing various groups and adding to what we had originally created and inputting new ideas of my own.

It's been said before that DM's shouldn't worry about mapping and planning their entire world.  I would have to agree.  It's much simpler to choose one area, a town or such, and then branching it out.  If you run different campaigns, jump to a different area of the continent and start filling that in.  Pretty soon, you have a shape of a continent with a lot of wide open space.  Other times, ideas just flock to your mind, and you start drawing them in where you want them.  Pretty soon, you have a big continent with a couple major points of interest.  And for starters, that's really all you need.

My campaign world is yet to have it's own name, but I have two continents, both of which have some points of interest marked.  Both were drawn on separate sheets of paper, then taped together to start forming the giant map I will probably have by the end of everything.  All in all, I'm very happy with this approach, as I'm not biting off more than I can chew, and, like the players, the scope of the world will slowly open up to me as I grow into it.

Below is my campaign world so far.

Some notes about Aradove:
  • Genkar, the city in the west, is a large seaside port city fill with everything imaginable
  • Raav is a goblin based militarized city.  It has recently been recognized as a standing nation.
  • Noi is the capital of the Noi-Ess region.  Much of their past was spent fighting rebels and insurgents.
  • Elyusis is the elemental capital, hidden in the middle of a great desert.
  • Bloodsand Isle was lost to Noi when the rebels seized it.  It is a lawless, gang ruled world, though much of the island is wild, primal and uncharted.
Notes about Finyar
  • The Sacred Forest, so named in the Common tongue is the largest forest in the world.  It stretches across half the continent of Finyar.  Many fey crossings exist in this forest, as well as mysterious ruins and other hidden dangers.
  • Scryiz, a nation who worships Bane.  Their desire to appease the god of war leads them to march on various other places in the world and always to make sure that their army is at its best.
  • Finyar Keep, a castle ruled by Eladrin.  Their High Court sends diplomats all over the world to speak and trade.
  • Ru'Endaar, a kingdom made up of mostly artists and craftsmen.  They have few warriors, but it is rumored that they have portals with access to Eladrin cities in the Feywild, allowing quick movement of soldiers should they ever be laid under siege.
In a nutshell, this is my (and my players') world as it exists so far.  I hope this will give everybody some insight into their own world building and map making.

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