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World Map

Discussion in 'World Building' started by RiverNymph, Aug 27, 2021.

  1. RiverNymph

    RiverNymph Scribe

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    Hi there! I wasn't quite liking any of the map building sites I was trying out, so I decided to just sketch one out. I am wondering if this is a realistic layout for a world? I've divided it into three main, specific biomes. This is a first draft, I haven't yet figured out where specific settlements and structures will be.

    Any tips on improving the landscapes? Does this map make sense to you looking at it? Of course it will go through a lot more drafts but if this reads well I'm going to keep its basic shape!

    Excuse the messy writing, but yes this is it! The in-between is of course ocean, with most of the waterways leading into it.
    Screenshot (1).png
     
  2. RiverNymph

    RiverNymph Scribe

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    Reading back i realized a swamp and a marsh are basically the same thing ,but the squiggle shapes are bits of land, the messy colouring is swampy water/bogs.
     
  3. goldhawk

    goldhawk Troubadour

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    If you want help with maps, I suggest the Cartographers' Guild.

     
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  4. Chasejxyz

    Chasejxyz Inkling

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    What does the map need to do? Is it for your own reference or is it something you want in your book? Like Dune has a map but it's incomprehensible. Also 99% of the things on it aren't even mentioned in the book. Most of the book is running around in the desert, and any place looks like any other place, so a map isn't going to help you with that. But a story like Lord of the Rings or the Hobbit where a journey is the central part of the story and you see all these different places and all these geographical features, then yeah, a map is really important.
     
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  5. LAG

    LAG Troubadour

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    Quick aside: I assume this is not on the continental scale? Are these Islands?

    The reason I ask is that a clearing in a forest is quite small most of the time and unnoted on standard maps, with great landmass areas that are enveloped by forests usually being either mountains or lakes. Conversely, areas that are 'clear' can be savannas, deserts, snowfields, icefields, steppes, plains, arid shrublands etc.

    I've also played around with map-making sites, especially those that gen an entire planet, and while the results are passably realistic, they feel too impersonal.

    My suggestion is to keep going at it, draw by hand or in a software suite such as Krita(free). By hand might be preferable for some, as you get a tactile 'feel' for the land. Pencil sketch then indian ink with nib maybe, or start straight away with ink and brush, seeing where imagination leads your hand.

    I guess it all comes down to how complex you want to go: Some series, like Malazan, have planetary maps and then area-spesific maps for each book and its loacales, for each city, Wolfe in his Sun series shows only one continent and the bottom half of another, while other authors have even smaller areas, with cities and borders marked out. Some have no maps, and this is in no way bad--it can add to the world's mystery, imo.

    If this get serious, study irl atlases, trace the shorelines of continents, see how islands tend to be distributed, bays formed, how rivers carve valleys, deltas, widen over plains, how mountain ranges with different geomorphic compositions appear on map.

    Then again, you can play Dwarf Fortress, which randomly gens an entire world exportable as .png with named biomes, rivers, mountains etc.
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2021
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  6. FifthView

    FifthView Vala

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    Are the large land bits continents? Or just large islands? I understand the smaller bits are supposed to be small islands in-between, I'm just wondering how large the other parts are meant to be.

    I'm sorry, but if I'm reading them correctly, they don't work well. In various computer games, you might find some worlds that are so clearly divided into land masses that correspond completely to biomes, but in real worlds you are likely to have a mixture of geographical features on every land mass. Heck, just look at real world continents or land masses. Even large islands might have some areas that are more mountainous than other areas, for instance. So clearly separating these biomes like this doesn't seem very realistic to me.
     
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  7. Mad Swede

    Mad Swede Sage

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    What is your map for? If you just intend to use it as a reference whilst you're writing then it doesn't need to be very neat, or even drawn on a computer. A pencil sketch is enough. But if you're intending to publish it as part of your book then you need to create a geography which is at least believable to the average reader, and it needs to be well drawn. So you'd need to read up on how continents form, how mountain ranges develop and how erosion shapes mountains, hills and coastlines. Then you'll need to think about flora and fauna and how these are affected by the underlying geography and geology and the way the winds blow.
     
  8. RiverNymph

    RiverNymph Scribe

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    Def just for myself to be able to better place the characters in the world, I will add a map to the book! Not with the legend or anything, just as part of the inside design!
     
  9. RiverNymph

    RiverNymph Scribe

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    I get what you mean! I will work on making in between areas, thank you :D
     
  10. RiverNymph

    RiverNymph Scribe

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    Thank you! i haven't yet gone into details with it, I just wanted to lay down the main sorta biomes it will have. I definitely will go back in and make it more detailed later on, overall it's just going to be for the inside cover of the book in my head. Like on the inside of the front and back cover! And it's also so I can visualize better. Once I figure out major cities and stuff I will probably be adjusting the map. I know it's going to change several times before it's actually done, this is just the very first rough draft.
     
  11. RiverNymph

    RiverNymph Scribe

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    Okay I grabbed this map off Azgaar to get a better idea of what it should look like! Mostly I think it will still be the three main kingdoms that have their unique biome, but of course where borders meet the geography will blend. I think I will stretch the mountain range a bit more, as well as make a large stretch of forest that starts in the plains and goes into the mountain region. Next I will use this map as a reference as just redraw the small tweaks and relabel the map with different names for the separate kingdoms and their major holdings/cities :D

    Screenshot (3).png
     
  12. TheKillerBs

    TheKillerBs Inkling

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    Okay, the first thing I want to ask is if realism is actually important to you. The second thing I want to point out is that none of these are actually biomes. You have a strange combination of types of biomes and ecological microregions
     
  13. RiverNymph

    RiverNymph Scribe

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    Oh yes wrong words I guess! I don't know really the right words to use, realism isn't all that important. But again, I expect to change it many times! It's more just decorative and to help me remember the types of environments they'll be in.
     
  14. TheKillerBs

    TheKillerBs Inkling

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    So since realism isn't that important, first bit of advice is to have the world serve the story. If you need a swamp here, there will be a swamp here. Second bit of advice is that the scale really matters. If you're working on a whole continent, a swamp will hardly be noticeable, much less a clearing. The third bit piggybacks off that - if your world is large enough, words like "forest" and "plains" are too broad. For example, a polar coniferous forest (also known as a Boreal forest or taiga) and a tropical rainforest are, broadly speaking, about as far apart in terms of biome as it's possible to be. One is cold and unproductive and just about the least diverse land biome excluding ice caps, while the other is hot and the most diverse and productive ecosystem on Earth. Both are forests. It's much the same with mountains, except that the size of the world doesn't matter here. There are a plethora of montane ecosystems - cloud forest, alpine broadleaf forest, alpine coniferous forest, alpine steppe, alpine tundra and alpine ice cap and at least one must have slipped my mind. Basically, keep in mind all the ecosystems/biomes you can place according to the scale you're working on, and twist them to accommodate your needs
     
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  15. ButlerianHeretic

    ButlerianHeretic Minstrel

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    As a counterpoint to the Dune example of a map with all kinds of cool stuf that are mostly never actually visited in the story, there is The Continent of the Witcher where we are never given a map by Andrzej Sapkowski and all the maps were created by fans trying to visualize what they were reading.

    For my part, I love maps, both irl and in fantasy stories. I'm a geology nerd and have taken Jared Diamond's observations about the relationship between geography and history to heart so maps are super important to me, and I see the map as an outline of the world's story since that geography is what those stories will emerge from. I like to do my initial rough draft of my continents by tearing roughly continent-shaped pieces out of paper (because continents are sheets of rock torn apart by geologic forces) and then tear those apart at triple-junctions (it is believed mantle plumes upwell and start splitting continents, but in any case, the rifts form in 3 directions from the central point) and then crash the pieces together to figure out where the subduction zones will be and where the folding within the continents might take place. Imagine Calvin crashing continents together while growling out sound effects, and that's basically me haha. And this way you get realistic shapes and you also you'll see echoes of where the former rifts were on the different continents like how they look in the real world - S. America and Africa for example. Then I draw what I get from that as a rough draft and re-shape the coastlines to represent erosion, add in island chains and detail how collision zones like the Mediterranean Sea worked themselves out and the like.

    As to climate, if the planet is roughly earth-like with similar average temperature, rotation, and axial tilt then divide the map horizontally into 6 bands representing the equator, 30th, and 50th parallels. Above roughly the 50th is subarctic, below roughly the 30th is tropical, with the space in between being various kinds of temperate, but the area right around the 30th parallel tends to be the hottest and driest deserts - though you can have deserts other places, but they generally won't be as intense as these. If both sides of a contient have substantial oceans, the climate on the west side is warmer than the east due to the way ocean currents spin so the line representing arctic climate curves up toward the ocean on the west side. Then another relatively simple rule is that the wind goes from east to west in the tropics, and from the west to the east in the upper half of the temperate region, so the area on the windward side of mountains is wetter and the area on the lee side is drier - however in the tropics the hot air is so wet that unless there are really high mountains or plateaus that keep the moisture away, or you have really enormous continents like Pangea, enough wet air will still swirl in from nearby seas to make the area wet. Some exceptions to where the moist air goes on Earth, the high plateaus if east Africa push the course of the winds further south causing a whole area of Asia and Africa near the equator to be drier than it would be otherwise, and similarly the equatorial mountains of South America push the winds northward so the coast of the Gulf of Mexico region is more tropical than it would be otherwise.

    The most important thing about the map though is where the water is. Not just oceans but the rivers and lakes. Rivers and lakes were the trade superhighways of the ancient world allowing far more goods to be carried far more easily than any form of land transportation. So if you have a large lake with a lot of large rivers feeding into it, that's like a big highway interchange that will tend to attract important cities, and whatever river drains that lake will probably have major cities on both the end where it leaves the lake and the end where it reaches the next body of water. Also, junctions between rivers are both great for trade and they have water on two of the three sides of their triangular shape so they are pretty defensible. If there is a large island that a city can be built on, ts is a good place for one, especially if the river on either side is narrowed enough to allow bridges (Paris, for example) that makes the city key to both land and water communication through it. Also regions where two rivers aproach each other from different sides of a land mass are important. For example, in my home of Washington state in the U.S., the capitol city is at the end of a river traveling inland, which reaches a plateau near another river that goes south making that combination of rivers an old trade route. Even more impressively, the Rhine and Danube rivers together cross most of Europe, and have been joined by a canal in modern times.

    On a continental scale, major navigable waters have formed important trade centers that created vast regions with connected cultures. The Mediterranean has meant the region was always a center of cultural trade. The combination of the Mediterranean with the nearby Red Sea and Persian Gulf even before the Suez Canal made the Middle East a strategically vital region millennia before oil. European culture outside the Mediterranean developed around the North and Baltic seas, and the rivers that flow into them. The rivers flowing into the black sea from the West and North unified Eastern European culture, along with Moscow which is on a tributary of the Volga that flows into the Caspian sea but runs very close to the Don river which flows into the Black Sea (at Volgagrad, more famous by the name Stalingrad during the Soviet era and WW2). East Asian cultures developed along the huge rivers of China and around the seas between the mainland and the island arcs. More complex is the trade theat developed around the Indian Ocean. Equatorial winds blow from east to west. However the massive plateaus of central asia cause upwelling air currents during the northern hemisphere summer that pull in so much air that the winds reverse direction and blow from west to east in the summer months. This allowed a vast region of rich trade from East Africa to all of South Asia which linked lands as far apart as Ethiopia and China into a huge trade network.

    For a short version of Jared Diamond's take on history. If you have a continent that is laid out east to west like Eurasia, there will be large bands of similar climate along the length of the continent, and cultures that develop technologies anywhere on the continent will be able to trade and share with similar cultures elsewhere on the continent so technology will advance quickly. In particular, any development of agriculture by any culture on that continent will rapidly spread across the entire continent which tends to get technological development started and more advanced technology tends to develop consistently based on when a culture started farming. By contrast, if you have a continent that is laid out north-to-south like the Americas or Africa, or the separation of Australia from Eurasia, then the land mass will be broken up into small pockets of different climates so any culture that develops agriculture can't share that invention with nearby regions because those regions will have to base their agriculture on totally different plants. So cultures that develop in those continents will take longer to develop agriculture and they'll be thousands of years behind technologically. Also since trade will be harder across dramatically different climate bands including deserts and rainforests, cultures on these continents will have a harder time trading will not get as many new technologies through trade so they will advance even more slowly.
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2021
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  16. RiverNymph

    RiverNymph Scribe

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    Thank you! That is really helpful, I'll keep it in mind :happy:
     
  17. RiverNymph

    RiverNymph Scribe

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    I understood about half of that haha, I was never good at geography in school. But I see what you mean, I will probably watch several youtube videos about this later on. Thank you, I'm saving this in a note to reference again. :D Super helpful response, thank you! I am going at it the wrong way, trying to visualize the whole thing at once. I am going to try out your paper trick!
     
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  18. Adiam Gaunt

    Adiam Gaunt Acolyte

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    I would ABSOLUTELY recommend the program "Wonderdraft". It costs I think $15-$20 to purchase, but it is the best map-making tool on the market today.
     
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  19. ButlerianHeretic

    ButlerianHeretic Minstrel

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    Checking that out and I must say I'm horrified. What about the romance of meticulously drawing countless tiny inverted v-shaped mountains with aching hands?
     
  20. Adiam Gaunt

    Adiam Gaunt Acolyte

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    I just really like using it because I can't draw ;-;
     
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