Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Mapping the Wilderness

Now that I’ve officially moved aboveground to finish the surface works of Stonehell, I’ve had to think about life outside of the dungeon. Back in February, I decided that I was going to keep to tradition and use the map from Outdoor Survival as the beginning wilderness setting for the aboveground portion of the game. I’ve since taken the time to examine that map more closely and I have settled on the most likely location to place the dungeon. I needed some rough terrain that could reasonably hold the box canyon that Stonehell is situated under, as well as requiring a swamp in close proximity to that location, since “canonically” there’s a tunnel which extends from Level Two of the dungeon to a nearby fen. Luckily, the Outdoor Survival map features a hex that qualifies for both of those two requirements.

I’ve done a rough draft of the wilderness map using Grim’s Blank Hex Sheet to get my thoughts in order. It’s a great sheet for plotting out the hex crawl portion of you game and I can’t recommend it enough. This beginning map was, in turn, adapted from Rob Conley’s Wilderlands treatment of the OS game board. So the evolution process looks something like this:

The orignal Outdoor Survival game board.

Rob Conley's Wilderlands treatment of the same area of wilderness.

My own rough map of the same area of wilderness.

Obviously, I’m the evolutionary throwback of the bunch. In my defense though, it looks much better in hardcopy and it’s still a work in progress.

My gut tells me I made the right choice in deciding to go with the Outdoor Survival map on this one. Looking the rough draft over, I can see that there is a variety of terrain types to play with and several of the little quirks of the map already suggest possibilities for adventures above and beyond that of Stonehell. If I had gone with my original intention to draw a wilderness map from scratch, I think I would have hamstrung my creative process too much as I attempted to pay lip service to real world geography and earth science. This way is much more liberating.

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