Beginning Maps

Following on from yesterday’s work to outline the world of The Northern Isles, today I have been focusing on some initial maps.

Welcome to the Northern Isles, the most extreme northern province of the Holy Empire. The Isles are a broken series of seven islands that lie off the northern banks of the main continent. The largest island, the Northland Isle, is divided into two portions: the northern Barbarian wilderland and the tamed southern Imperial Protectorate.

Introduction to The Northern Isles, 25th Oct 2021

Firstly, I had a mental image of the Isles and I wanted to capture that in a simple large-scale regional map which I sketched out over the course of an hour onto two sheets of A3 hexed paper. It looks like this:

Each hex is about 24 miles, giving me a nice large canvas to work down into more detail. Because this is just conceptual level stuff, however, I needed to grab a closer look at the area around the character’s starting location at North Point. I spent an hour or so zooming in to one A4 sheet with a 4:1 hex ratio (thanks to New Big Dragon Games for their excellent d30 accessories) and carefully tried to sketch out the region we’re starting in. Here’s a snapshot of that effort:

North Point is the northern-most fort (a box with a cross in it) which stands at the bend in the river.

The whole of the Northland Isle is under military rule, and you are based around the most northerly border fort, North Point, which sits on the south side of the wide Serpent River. Wild Barbarian tribes generally prefer to trade with the settlement, but recent signs suggest a new tribal King has arisen with ambitions southward… The south gate road is an Imperial Road that runs roughly straight southward to the next line of defences and the small town of Serpent’s Hold.

Introduction to The Northern Isles, 25th Oct 2021

For me, this combination of writing up some descriptive notes and then transferring the mental image to a roughly sketched map is the best way in to a new world. I can now see the relationship between the written notes and the larger context. From this, ideas are already welling up and there are some locations on the map which are suggestive of possible adventuring goals.

Overall, I am building a sandbox just big enough to get me started but set within a slightly larger realm that allows me to quickly move outwards should I need to. The next step will be to pick the 24-mile hex within which sits North Point and drill down into the 6-mile hexes that surround it. Then I will sketch out North Point itself. In the meantime, I await the character concepts of the players.

Game on!

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