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 🙂


Mapping relations

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.