Mapping the World

The Riadus Campaign Setting has been around for a while now, and in that time I’ve gone through 2 revisions of the setting map. The latest version is currently around 2 years old, and I’m finding a few things I don’t really like about it.

For one, it’s (almost) randomly generated. The original map was created using a system of randomly mapping from an old AD&D supplement. The idea was to divide the world into sections, randomly determine what the ratio of land to water was in each section, then squiggle in some coastlines using the neighboring areas as a guide. Well, this really sounded good at the time, and in a way it still does. It helps to create a world. Not necessarily a realistic world, but a world good enough for a fantasy campaign. But it bothers me that what I created was more random than realistic.

Another issue I’m having is plausibility of the map I have. In the 2nd revision I move around many of the nations to more neatly fit into the natural boundaries the geography of my map presented. In the 3rd, I completely redrew the map from the point of view of where I wanted each nation and created the boundaries where I needed them. This created a much more realistic map, but created a different problem for me. I now had a bunch of nations all crammed together on a large continent that seemed to lack enough waterways to support them.

In the real world two major factors (among others, I’m sure) influenced the growth and advancement of civilization. Access to the sea for travel and access to other people for trade. Some may say these are the same thing as interrelated as they are. In the real world, our modern civilization (in the West) sprang out of the cultures that developed along the cost of the Mediterranean sea. The sea allowed contact with nearby people, and as a result their shared culture allowed everyone to develop rather quickly. Quickly as compared to the nomadic people of North America at the time. North America had too much land and not enough water and people.

I want my world to be more like the Mediterranean area. More water, more people and more travel. I don’t really want a high-seas campaign setting, but a setting that allows for high-seas adventure in addition to the other things I want would be great. I want the feeling that people from far off lands need only hop on a ship to get where they’re going. I want the further inland one goes to represent a frontier that’s been all but ignored in favor of the bountiful lands nearer the sea.

So, with that lengthy and likely unnecessary explanation, I’ll be reworking the geography of my campaign world. My goal (other than as explained above) is to maintain the various nations I currently have, and hopefully maintain their geographic relation to each other. What I have now is a large land mass the size of Europe which I want to shrink down to about a third its size. I want all the major nations to be coastal, so that one can sail from from to another with relative frequency.

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