After showing samples of maps I've done it was time to start looking at the some of the thinking behind maps and how to apply that to fantasy cartography.
My first aspect of a map is Information vs. Inspiration, some maps are there to give you information only and others mostly to inspire you in some way. Here is an example of two maps of a zoo, one is from Google maps and the other is the zoo's own map.
The left one gives you simple and easy to read information, but not much else. The one on the right looks cute and inviting urging you to explore the whole park, but it's hard to get much real information from it.
Let's look at an example closer to home, the area around the Free City of Greyhawk. First the way we all are used to see it with the classical fantasy map by Darlene.
What if this was a map for use by the motorist of today? Here is an example of the same area presented in a modern Road Atlas style.
A very different map for a different purpose. Here is another example, as a nav chart for airline pilots.
A bit silly implementation, but you get the point. Good maps are made to suit the user and his or her needs. With this in mind, here is my try to make a map that fills the needs for Game Masters (and players) running their games in the area.
I try to keep the information content high and precise and in addition try to give the map a medieval fantasy, primitive look. Not easy and far from perfect, but for my time of gaming very useful.
A large part of my cartography rely on a extensive symbols set. Here is a sample of the symbols for my Greyhawk maps.
Role Playing also calls for maps to be used as in game props, and for this I created a series of what I call handout maps. Below is an example of a what a map hanging in the office of the Lord Mayor of Greyhawk could look like.
What if the characters find a map in a language they can't understand or the map is made intelligible by magic, or maybe they can't read. Then a map like this might be a perfect prop.
In my games I use a map version that shows the players the lay of the land as they explore. Terrain without labels but with symbols showing features that are obvious to the characters as they explore the lands.
More in Part 3!