LESSON Maps, a Bane or a Blessing?

Discussion in 'CREATING WORLDS & SETTINGS' started by Ner0, Jul 18, 2014.

  1. Maps are...

    a delicate topic.

    Before continuing through this guide I need you to ask yourself a question.


    Does my rp need a map?

    90% of the time the answer to this question, is no. A map, while extremely helpful as a grounding tool and way of communicating information to your players, is very binding and can result in some awkward situations for longer lived role plays.

    If, however, you still find yourself in need of creating a map, allow me to assist you with my own natural method.


    Tools needed: A Pen, A pencil with an eraser, a piece of blank, or lined paper, an hour and a half to yourself, and your creative mind.



    Close your eyes and put your PEN somewhere on the paper. Where ever it lands will be the start of your first continent or island. Create a rounded line with a slight scribble, do not overlap any lines with each other and do not try and plan where the line will go. Let your hand guide you, your only goal should be to have your line end at the place it started without crossing over the edge of the page. Once you have completed this you will have the basic outline of your first continent. If you deem necessary add more land masses, there is no such thing as over kill, as long as you leave space for significant ocean masses you will be fine.

    Once this is done look at your map, Do some research on plate tectonics and decide where it would be most likely for mountain ranges to form in your world. Fill them in. I personally use small bottomless triangles for mountains, remember to make your mountains point towards the top of you map. This gives the illusion that they are lifting up, off of the paper. Judge where the top of your paper is by decided which direction is North for you world. (NORTH IS TOP)

    Once you have filled in your mountain ranges take a look at the map as a whole again. Tweek until you are satisfied with the size of your ranges and their natural appearance. Remember to only ever add to your mountains. We use a pen so as to prevent ourselves from taking back steps.

    Upon completing this step do some research on real world biomes and decide where you would likely see similarities in your world. Using your pencil, LIGHTLY trace out the general area that certain biomes occur in. Next we do our rivers. It helps to start at the shore and work your way inland. Remember what type of area your river is in. This is why our mountains were put in first. It is safe to assume that Rivers near mountains will be straighter and that rivers in apparent flat lands will be wavier. When drawing rivers use the same technique you used for drawing the Continents themselves, just remove the slight scribble.

    Next we do the Forests. I first draw a bunch of lines in the area I want to be the forest, and then draw lines at forty five degree angles from the main line at a length of about a third of the main line on each side. This will make a tree. I prefer to do my trees individually because I believe it adds flavor to the map. Do not worry if the trees are the same size as the mountains. Perhaps these are rebel trees who are just too cool for regular sizes. (either way it is fine, as long as you can tell the difference between the mountain drawings and the tree drawings.)

    After your tree's are done you can add in whatever biomes you happen to feel like adding in. Deserts are created by lightly spamming dots around the edges of the desert itself. To this day I don't understand how it works, but it just does. Once you are happy with the diversity of your maps biomes put away your Pen, in fact, burn it, it is a thing of evil from this point onwards.

    Grab your Pencil and start building Cities (with dots) roads (with lines) and boarders (with dotted lines) remember to do this lightly. These elements are non permanent and may change throughout the course of the Role play. Our pencil and eraser are our best friends for this reason, and feel free to Pencil in some of the stuff I told you to do in pen as well. (Just don't accidentally erase half of a desert, did that once, let's just say the locals were a tad confused for a decade or two).


    Once you have finished take one last look at your map, if you aren't satisfied, feel free to start again. Each time you do it will improve and evolve into something entirely different and new.


    I hope this was helpful to some of you,

    Have a good play :P

    ~Sincerely,

    A.
     
    #1 Ner0, Jul 18, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2014
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  2. Haha, you pretty much summed up the studying of maps in geography! :P I love maps, since I play in my original world; which I absolutely love; I must have my map. I like to use my characters in their homelands; and using my world in the roleplays helps me build it more. Gather more information. Besides a world is a biiig place; so there's a lot of opportunities and isn't as constricting as you give it at the beginning of your post! XP But then; my world has about 4-6 continents and many more countries; with islands too, of course.

    If one really wants to get into the building a living, breathing world they should figure out where the tectonic plates meet (aka the things that move under our land and water and cause earthquakes and other natural disasters!); that way they know which natural disaster they should ... play with, and throw at their characters if they'd so wish. If you wanted to, anyway. Of course; another thing important about map-building: Consider the type of species you'll be having inhabit the area; is their terrain going to hinder them, or is it going to be their friend? Or ... both? Because then you could get into the flora.
     
  3. Few thinga to think of when drawing a map.

    Rivers run down the mountains and around hills. They will never go through the landmass from one end to the other. Go from the center to the edges.

    Use the terrain to help emphasize country borders. It's pretty unlikely that a country is going to own a few miles across a huge mountain range without some serious supply issues.

    To that end most large cities will be at the banks of a river as well. This is because rivers facilitate simple and fast trade compared to huffing it over the hills. This is more importantin a medieval type setting, but because most cities would have started near a river even in futuristic settings that would be where the largest cities are going to fit best.
     
    #3 CAS, Aug 13, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2014