Part 4: Geography & Geology
I think maps are more important to a world builder than a player or game master. In order to properly create various cultures it is necessary to know in what type of environment they developed and have settled. Clothing, armor, weapons, lifestyles, housing, population size, celebration days, magic and nearly everything else is influenced by the surrounding environment.
Geography is the study of the physical features of the planet and its atmosphere, and of cultural activity as it affects and is affected by these, including the distribution of populations and resources, land use, and industries. Geology is the science that deals with the planet’s physical structure and substance, its history, and the processes that act on it. Tectonics, mineral deposits, soil strata and erosion due to water and wind shape the geography.
The world of Andrus was initially rendered using fractal terrain software called Wilbur. It had a ring-like shape with a lake in the center and an island at the center of the lake. At the time i had no real familiarity with landmass formation and weather patterns so i went with the generated map. The problem with a fractal generator is that you can’t take into account tectonics or weather very effectively. It will provide elevations but not much else.
Eventually I decided to tack Andrus on the ‘back side’ of Faerun connecting the two via the extreme northern expanse of mountains, tundra and glaciers. The map was redrawn by hand on hex paper. It was a better attempt at generating a reasonable map for a campaign setting but still not an especially inspiring one.
Thankfully, it’s the digital age and freelance cartographers are everywhere on the Internet. I’ve stumbled across a free world map by Tad Davis on DeviantArt that I feel will more than meet my needs for developing the geographic and geologic breakdown of my planned setting. As I’m not anticipating publishing any of this for commercial purposes use of the image is acceptable. Thank you Tad, the base maps are beautiful.
I have been hard at work breaking down Upper Andrus into logical regions of political influence. I’m not set on the titles for each region but, based on topographical features like mountains and rivers the borders are pretty tight and fairly logical. The three regions with no occupation are plateaus and tundra for the most part. There is a Lower Andrus as well but i’m going to focus on this one for now since it accommodates all my core cultures.
I’m still pondering scale. Based on the resolution and an import into Campaign Cartographer I get about 1800+ miles east to west. For real world comparison
- North America is approximately 3500 miles from east to west
- Europe is approximately 1305 miles from east to west
Seems like a reasonable, if small, continent with which to work at this point.