I’m a big fan of MS Visio. It is a great program that I’m using a lot at work to make pictures that explain my work environment in a clear and easy way. I was also lucky enough to be able to buy the program for a low price to use at home.
But now you might start to think what this has to do with mapping, quite a lot actually. Visio is a great tool even for mapping, but not mapping in the traditional way. Even though you actually can do great maps of offices in it, maps that in style could be great as blue prints in a game that takes place in the modern world.
But I’m more interested in making fantasy maps, so how am I using Visio here. Well so far I’ve mainly used it to map the relations between nations and factions. With it you can make great maps that give you a good look of how the different nations correspond to each other.
As an example I’ll show you the “relation” map of the Etrakien world below.
When I started to create my Etrakien world the main thing I was clear about was that there had been two empires that collided and in the end brought themselves to a collapse. After that the world was divided into a lot more countries then before. In the beginning I only had the name of a few but as I started to map the world I had to make up some more. So now I have fifteen countries around the Etrakien sea, countries that in one way or another have to relate to each other.
I knew that The Etrakien Empire and the Arnorian Empire hated each other, and still theoretically were at war, and that the Etrakien Empire wanted to reconquer Ankh-Bathor. But what about the rest of the countries, who were they friends or enemies with?
So I decided to make a simple map in Visio to get my ideas and thoughts on paper. In the map you can see the relations between countries with colourful arrows. If there is no arrow between two countries that means that they are neutral to each other.
I started to put in the two obvious ones, the red arrow between Etrakien and Arnor and the orange one between Etrakien and Ankh-bathor. I then started to think what I would have done if I were Ankh Bathor, probably trying to find some allies. No country wants to fight a war at two fronts, so I’d probably try to convince Andamar to be on my side, so if the Etrakien Empire attacks, Andamar would strike them in the back and force Etrakien to divide its forces.
I continued in this way until I had gone through all the countries, and the result you can se above.