Quite recently I made two maps for a Swedish RPG called Fantasy! It is an old school game that goes back to the roots of the RPG hobby. This means maps in black and white. I found it very enjoyable to make those maps. It is something special to just use black and white while making maps. You just have those two colours nothing else. No grey areas just those two opposite colours, it is a bit like working with negative and positive spaces and try to make it look as good as possible.
After finishing the maps, which I had to do in a very short space of time due to a deadline coming up, and I came in rather late in the project, I felt that I wanted to push this style a bit further. I felt that I could make much more of it, that there were a lot more boundaries to explore here.
The map in this post is a very early version of the more developed style I’m now working on. It is of a dragon that has moved in to the entrance of a Dwarven underground kingdom. A perfect place for a short evening scenario where the players have to rid the entrance of the dragon, so that the Dwarves can start using it again.
For the style I’ve also decided that I will make some more monsters, not just having a dragon. This is a way for me to try to develop my drawing skills as I’m not very used of doing monsters or creatures. I used to do a lot of drawing while in school so many years ago. But since then I’ve nearly only done map art, like mountains and trees. So you can say I’m a bit rusty.
I thought it was time to try to push my skills a bit forward and challenge myself with something else then mountains. So at the moment I’m trying to make a list of creatures that might come in handy, except dragons, while making old school maps. I’m trying to focus on larger monsters here not the ordinary orc soldier. The picture below is of a great spider, spiders are always fun to throw at your players. Any suggestions of other large monsters or creatures that like to reside in dark dungeons or catacombs?
I was really looking forward to this month’s annual (April, 2013) by Jonathan Roberts. His earlier ones are two of my absolute favorites. I must say though that at first I was a bit disappointed when I looked at this month’s style. If you look at the earlier overland map annual he made the symbols are in my opinion some of the best ones I’ve seen so far published by Profantasy. Every mountain, city and hill icon are like small pieces of art, and the new symbols in this month’s annual doesn’t really reach the same standard. Still they are looking great and a there are a lot of useful symbols that I missed in the first overland style from Jonathan, like the cliff edges. The thing here is that Jonathan has spoiled us with such great maps and products that the expectations you have on a new style from him are probably impossible to live up to.
Already before I received this month’s style I had decided on making a map in the style to try it out. Some time ago I was asked if I could make a colour map of the campaign world from a Swedish old school RPG called Fantasy! (great game by the way), so I thought it would be a great way trying out the new style. In the end I however used more symbols from the old overland style then the new one, but some crucial pieces in the map are from the new one.
As always it is easy to quickly build up a map in CC3, as long as you do it in the right order. I think that one of the great advantages of CC3 is that it lets me make maps in styles I normally can’t. For me to make a map in the same style as Jonathan Roberts without CC3 would take ages, if it would be possible at all. Now I can accomplish it in about a day’s work, which is absolutely amazing.
As always when I work in CC3 I like to bring up the map in Photoshop to make it more unique and give it a bit of a personal touch. This time I’ve added some colours, especially around the area called Ankhar on the map, and I also painted the rivers in Photoshop. I wanted the rivers to be more irregular in form then what you can get in CC3.
I’m very pleased with the result and now with more symbols to use with the new style from Jonathan I definitely think I will return to this style in a not too distant future.
If you look back in history we have always had systems for how we count time. Days turn to weeks, weeks to months and month to years. When it comes to my Etrakien world I started to think about how they divide the year. An easy way, that many use, is to just convert our calendar to your fantasy setting. Twelve months made up of approximately four weeks.
But I felt I wanted something else, I wanted a system that kind of felt unique for the world, a system that also had some logical connection with the metaphysical universe of the Etrakien world. After some thinking I decided on the following.
The Etrakien universe consists of seven worlds, once created by seven gods called Archonts. These worlds where just bleak copies of the original world, created by the original God. So the numbers seven and eight are very magical for the Etrakien world. Because of this I decided that an Etrakien year consists of seven months that all have seven weeks. Every week has seven days which makes the total number of days per year to 343.
But every seventh year there is an extra week of seven days called the eighth year. Those eight years will together build up what is called a cycle. So when you ask a person in Etrakien what exact day it is he will answer something like this, – It is the fourth day of the third week in the fifth year of the 28th cycle.
When I was thinking of the calendar I also thought about the moon. The moon has always been important and we generally have had a good knowledge of the moons cycle. How many days it is between the full moons and so on. In the Etrakien world there are actually two moons. One moon has a cycle of 28 days between its full moons, the second one can only be seen during the eighth year, and is regarded as a very strong foreteller of how the next cycle of eight years will turn out.
The very few times that the two moons will be full together during the eighth year are regarded as times of great change to come. How often that happens however I still have to count on 🙂