Making a fairy tale book

Farjvad the tale

When I show my city/town maps to people I often get the comment that the style make them look like something from a fairy tale book. With this in mind I thought it would be fun to play around a bit with my latest map, and put it in a book. The question was just how should I do it?

Some time ago I backed a project called the Lamp Post Guild over at kickstarter. As a thank you for doing this I received some really nice goodies the other week, brushes for Photoshop, nice wallpapers and some really good textures. One of these textures was of a old looking book page. So I thought I could use that for my little project.

The first thing I had to do was to make the single page into a double page, which was quite easy in Photoshop. I also removed some of the stains from the copy and added some new. It would look strange if both sides were identical. After that I just added the map and removed a small part of the border to make it look like the map was painted on the page.

Next problem was to decide what to write on the remaining pages. One of the best campaign/adventures I’ve ever played for a RPG, be it English or Swedish, is the one named “Konfluxsviten” by Erik Granström. When he published the campaign rules for his island world Trakorien he did it as a story of a monk travelling around the islands.

So I thought I do the same here. Why not describe the town through the eyes of a traveller that is passing by. I thought of this traveller as if he came from the more densely populated coastline of Armadien and now he was documenting his trip through the large forest that the Vadsbro province consists of. In this way I could get a more fun way of presenting the town, and it would feel more like something you actually would find in a book.

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Farjvad

Farjvad

This is my latest map made in City Designer 3 (CD3) from Profantasy. It depicts the village Farjvad in the province Vadsbro and is part of the campaign/adventure I’m working on at the moment, even though I’ve mostly made maps so far.

Farjvad is situated about a day’s trip north east of the main town in the area, Vadsbro. Farjvad won’t actually be of importance for the adventure I’m writing, but it will still be a part of the campaign information. As you might have noticed I like to make maps, and making the adventure/campaign gives me some good reasons to do that. I also figured out that if I only have maps of the villages where the adventure takes place the players will rather quickly figure out what places are of importance and which ones are not. Also this will make the adventure feel much more unscripted if the players can go wherever they pleasein the area and the GM will have a nice map of the place.

So how did I go from a blank page to a finished map? What shall you think about while making a village map? First of all you have to decide where the village is situated, is it in a forest or a desert? The environment gives as well takes away possibilities for the map. In my case I know from the overland map of the province Vadsbro that Fjardinge is a village that is founded on two sides of a river, only connected via a ferry in the middle of a large forest.

I also decided that the south part of the village was the old one and that the north side is the new part where recent expansion of the village has taken place. Because that the village is situated in the middle of the forest there had to be some place for the villagers to go for protection if some kind of crises turned up. In this case I put a keep (nr 5 on the map) where the governor of the village used to live with his soldiers, maybe ten of them at a max. I could have gone with a palisade but in this case it didn’t feel right.

I also added a temple (nr 4), all places must have somewhere to go for religious need. The ruined temple (7) just outside the village was deserted when the new temple was done. What resides there today is up to the GM to decide.

Nowadays most travelers are using the northern road that leads from Vadsbro to the village Klyvholm. For this reason a newer part of Fjardinge has been built on the northern side. To make the sides differ a bit I decided to make the fields more square here, like they’ve been planned a bit. The big house at the square (nr 1) will also house the governor of the village (he decided to move here from his keep on the south side).

What I’ve actually have done here is making a story around the village and letting the story lead the way while mapping. I think I’ve stated this before on the blog, but having a story in your head while mapping usually makes your maps more interesting, which means a better end result. It is also a lot more fun to map when you have a picture in your head of what the place looks like, it is like seeing your ideas come to life.

The city Vadsbro

Vadsbro

In a post just before Christmas I told you about a campaign/adventure I’m working on for my Etrakien world. Well now when the overland map is done it is time to start concentrating on some city/town maps as the next step.

This is a map of the main city in the area, Vadsbro, a for the area rather large town with around 2.000 citizens. Trade is the main income and a lot of goods are distributed down the river to the rest of the Armadien kingdom. Mainly the trade is in Copper, wood and different goods they get from the Traals in the area. At the moment the whole area is experiencing a peaceful and quiet time, but things are soon going to change.

The map is actually an old map I made of the town while practicing CD3. By then it was called Littlebridge, but when I decided to write a campaign in Swedish I had to come up with a Swedish name for the city. At the same time I also added a border to the map and worked a bit with the light and effects in Photoshop. I decided to go with the same border as in the overland map of the province Vadsbro to make the maps feel connected. I probably continue to use the border for the upcoming maps as well.

Now I just have to remember to do some writing as well.

Mind mapping an adventure

Vadsbro Mindmap
As I’ve stated before I always find it much easier to make a map if I have a story to tell. The story usually give you ideas for details that will lift your map to a higher level and that makes it more interesting and appealing to look at.

Lately I’ve found myself sitting with no ideas what to map, I just felt empty when I tried to come up with an idea. To solve the problem I decided to try to make an adventure. I don’t know if I ever write it down on paper but I felt I had to make a story from which I could get ideas what to map.

When I used to play RPG’s I always enjoyed adventures where the story was kind of free. With this I mean where the player feels he is in charge of what to do and where to go. The opposite would be a more restricted adventure where you go from event one to event two and so on. Of course all adventures are event driven in one way or another, and the story isn’t as free as you want the players to feel. But the important thing here is to make them feel like they can do whatever they want to.

So to make this work out I decided to make a mind map of my adventure, in this way I can easily plan what will happen, what events are linked to each other etc. I also get a clear view of what kind of maps I need to make, which is kind of the reason for the whole mind-map-an-adventure thing.

So what is the story then? The adventure will take place in Armadien in the Etrakien world, in one of its more remote placed towns called Vadsbro. Vadsbro is the central town in one of Armadiens twelve provinces, a province centered on trade with timber, skins and copper. But strange things are happening, there are reports of people gone missing in town and strange sounds can be heard during the nights. North of the town the miners have reported that they’ve seen strange lights in the forest close to the mountain and to the east the Traals are restless and a rumor is around that someone are selling them weapons of steel, which of course is a hefty crime.

The mind map is in Swedish (sorry if you can’t read that) and is made in Visio 2010, a great program for this kind of activity. Now I just need to map all those locations 🙂

Southpoint

This is a map of the city Southpoint, situated in the southern parts of the kingdom Armadien. The map is done using the same technique as the one I described in my tutorial I ran earlier here on the blog, but on a much larger scale.

The map is done in City Designer 3 (CD3) from Profantasy, but edited with various effects in Photoshop after completion in CD3. CD3 is probably my favorite program from Profantasy and I’ve done quite a lot of maps using the program. Mostly small villages and medium sized towns. The programs strength is that it let you create a very convincing town or village in a very short time, compared to if you did everything by hand in a program like Photoshop. It is easy to place houses and trees and there is a great variety of different textures of more “important” buildings you can as easily use.

Even if the program in most cases work great there are some smaller drawbacks with it. First and mainly it has a tendency to crash,and usually this happens when you haven’t saved for a long time. Which makes you loose a lot of work. So saving as OFTEN as you can is a must. Also when you use a predefined style the end result tend to be a bit ordinary, that’s why I like to process the maps in Photoshop. To give them a more unique look and feeling.

When you create a larger town like Southpoint you need to do a bit more planning of the city then if you’re mapping a small village. When I made Southpoint I started by looking at some older towns in Google earth, which is a great and fun way to spend you time :). In this way I tried to see how I could capture the look and feeling of a town, that would make Southpoint look more convincing and real.

When I started on the map I began by creating the landmass and sea. I then decided where to put the inner town wall an designing the streets in the inner more compact part of the city. At this stage I put in the roads that led into town and decided where to put the gates for the outer town wall and how the wall itself would stretch. I now had a inner dens city surrounded by a city wall and an outer city wall with roads leading up to the inner city from the maps lower end.

Next step was to try to figure out where people would settle down in this area. usually people start to build houses around the city gates, you need to have a place to stay if the walls are closed and after arriving in the town you might want some refreshment or selling some of your goods. At this stage I also tried to decide what roads will be used more often, because these will be cobbled, where might the squares be situated, any other landmarks I want to put in.

A good thing to do here is trying to pretend that you are a visitor to the town. When you enter the city through one of the gates what can you expect to see? Where would you go to look for an inn? Are there any temples near by? In this way it is both fun and inspiring to start building your city, and often I come up with a lot of ideas in this way.

So after completing the map and working in the way described here I came up with the following story regarding Southpoint.

Southpoint used to be a free city with close connections to the City state Ankh-Bathor further south. But the King of Armadien couldn’t accept it’s freedom (well he obviously wanted part of the money). After some short battles and long negotiations Southpoint agreed to be a part of the Armadien kingdom and pays a yearly tax from it’s vast trading income. A lot of very influential people in the city (mainly traders) don’t like this and want there freedom back. With support from Ankh-Bathor they are plotting against the king. Unfortunately some are also looking for help in the shadows and nightmares where seldom good deals are done.