Here is the final version!!
You can get them here: https://www.annabmeyer.com/576cy-download/
Only recommend the PDF version for those with really powerful computers, the size of this map is in many ways too big for the PDF format. It has layers like older PDF versions.
Thank you all for supporting this project, it took a bit over a year and a lot of long hours of work but I'm really pleased with the result and it is a good leg to stand on until all the content can be migrated into a GIS based map.
Here is a list of the changes:
Changed the internal borders of the Duchy of Urnst to provincial.
Blackfriar Manor --> Blackfair Manor
Shield Reclaimed - From Bastion of Faith
Removed misplaced Jewel River text label
Changed Fleichshriver to Freehold
Tweaked the roads of Freehold
Densac Gulf, Pearl Sea and Vohun Ocean labels placement adjusted
Johnsport, river and road adjustments
Blemu Castle added
Old Town of Blemu renamed to Harrowkeep
Knurl moved and border adjusted
Roads around Knurl adjusted
Named the road from Harrowkeep to Spinecastle, The Harrowing Road
Wild Coast, Town of Blue Bay added
South Olman Isle, added Atloxtin and Mahuatl
Narisban, added heraldry
Ratik, added Cavrik's Cove
Added Boval Islands
Added Estold Islands
Fharlanst Castle, moved a bit south
Mansbridge, moved east and changed to a small valled town
Hochoch moved to west side of the Realstream
The Docks added next to Stoink
Goldchasm moved further into the Adri
Adjusted Great Kingdom Adri border
Nanonshaven changed to Nannonshafen and moved westwards
Added Flosh Crossing, from Saga of Old city p259
Agnelford renamed Ongleford and moved to the Tessar Torrent west of Knurl
Oddgave Hill added from Saga of Old City
Adjusted Almor western border
Druid's Well moved further into the Adri
Added Ripper Hills
Changed Blemu Uplands to Tessar Uplands
Len Lakofka's elven town Labelas Grove and Treant Moot added in Axewood
Lo Nakar relocated a bit to the west to better match Amy Crittendens OJ35 article
The Eddri Line of keeps in Idee are now labeled
Heraldry added for Sybarate Isle
Sheldomar River, the first part renamed Kla'arkash River
Shiboleth moved north and roads rearragned
The Black Obeslisk site added in the Rushmoors
Riddlings Pass moved north
Added Rutherton and Mt Rantoloch in Tehn
Changed Sterich from a March to an Earldom
Uskedge and its Marchland added to the North Province
Red Falls changed to large town
Baronies of Highlander added
Split Rock added in the Rovers
Legend updated with Imperial borders, edited text and new sea depths
Lo Reltarma moved to Len's original locations on the small island
Pel Reltarma added
Lake Farmin removed
Garrotten moved to Lake Farmin
Manville moved to Garrotens old location
Asmogorgon upgraded to a town
Removed a few roads and sea lanes in the SW
Galesford added in Nyrond
Cepentar added in eastern Hardby territory
Macroom renamed Gysselen
Shanscross added in Veluna, from Saga of Old city
Road from Veluna city to Littleberg via Shanscross added
Stump in Furyondy moved north to the road to Laurelinn, from artifact of Evil
Pen-Wilds area added in the northern Barrier Peaks, from Sea of Death
Hardby heraldry updated
Bardillingham added in the Vale of the Mage, from Sea of Death Gord book
Added Jotslpat heraldry, CASL
Ruined city of Zinbyle in the Sea of Dust is named
Added Jungle of Lost Ships
Dustbrigde heraldry added
Franz river and its tributaries
Added rivers along the cost of the Gulf of Ghayar
Chanded the small river flowing through Innspa
2021 was a year of projects that refused to die, my two big commissions faced delays, retractions and restarts multiple times, derailing my planning for large parts of the year. Despite all this 2021 was a year with reasonable amount of progress. For the first time in my Greyhawk gaming history I'm really starting to feel like I starting know the setting in depth. For decades I've been nose deep in all types of Greyhawk related material trying to absorb details for my Flanaess map, now I'm starting to connect the dots and my Oerth Project have made me expand my horizons both in space and in time.
After spent twenty years of working on the same map using, for the most part using the same tools, 2021 was the year I broke new ground both in technology and scope. I started a new campaign in 2020, running a campaign online for the first time and I wanted a new set of maps to bring out the landscape and to be a detailed canvas for my ambitious campaign. I've spent almost five years trying to figure out what kind of map would work best, level of details, what data and so forth. I settled for the "Porta Potty ScaleTM" with 5ft/pixel, detailed enough to show individual trees and buildings and still be able to cover many hundreds of square miles per individual map.
A height map as detailed vertically as horizontally and full realism in things and drainage, foliage and texture was the goal. The hardest nut to crack are rivers and there are still parts that have to be made manually but the result with some tedious work is good enough to make me happy and a model of Shield Lands are now taking shape that are a dream come true, a landscape detailed enough for me to act as a canvas for campaigning for years to come. Pouring over the details have inspired me to reach deep into both history and contemporary Shield Lands Content to create my version of the lands and continue the story with my gaming group. We have fought over and liberated Auldet from the clutches of Iuz and are now heading off to the Dragon Hide Caves to find the characters past as well as their future.
Along side the campaign map I'm also developing a standard for encounter maps at 20 pixels/5ft to be used in VTT's an printed for in person games. To map using standards is important for me so when I create things like textures, props, templates etc that can be reused, tweaked and inserted in new places over and over again with minimal fuss. Over time this will speed up things and improve quality making it possible to map as part of game prep with out it taking too much longer. Most VTT maps out there are 100px/5ft or more and look much better than what I have decided to use, what are my rational behind the low quality.
I've found (the hard way) that relying on digital sketching abilities to be much faster than using a specialized mapping software. Tools like Inkarnate, DungeonFog or Campaign Cartographer can produce fantastic results, but they are fiddly to use and brake my flow and they have a hard time to cope with my existing content. Photoshop and Krita have become my go to tools for this, giving me power, speed, flexibility and compatibility. Krita is an open source drawing tool with lots of innovative tools perfect for sketching and painting and a good complement to Photoshop's technical arsenal of sometimes overly complicated tools. For me Krita is a tool I will use mainly for creation of props and decorative elements for maps and other graphics.
The Shield Lands will be a big project this upcoming spring and early summer, and I need to have maps and prints ready for my D&D in Castle Campaign in England. All the material will be available for download and you will be able to order prints of them as well.
It was with trepidation I took on the task of creating my first model of the whole planet Oerth, a simple and more sketch-like one, but covering the entire planet. It was very much unchartered territory when I started planning for it a couple of years ago, first reading what little material I could find and study what others had done. My approach was to concentrate on the physical aspect of the planet and try to create a "best of" version and be inclusive, Oerth is a very big place with room for a lot. I started with the rightfully terrible Dragon Annual map and a few extras like Frank Menzers Antaria (or Aquaria) that I have chosen to call Menzeri in his honor.
After months of sketching and nearly a hundred versions later I felt I had transformed the "DA1 cowhide" into something I felt I could progress with. After that my Oerth project took on a life of its own with a deep dive into what kind of planet could have generated the Flanaess and its cherished stories. A climate sketch and historical variations opened up a huge rabbit hole for my imagination and a series of articles that are the most interesting thing I've done so far. The geography and its history are a skeleton for a deeper historic series of articles I intend to develop for my own campaign and share with you all. No time plan for completion, but snippets are being created already and its is a lot of fun and make me feel at home in the setting.
Ancient Flan history is what I have begun with and it is one of the main plot lines of my Shield Lands campaign. A line of events that can trace its origins to Keraptis, Dragotha and the worship of undead, fiends and worse, at a time when wisdom was scarce, knowledge deadly, lives short and brutal, in the time of the Ur-Flan.
From humble beginnings with the Legends & Lore Show a few years ago it has with the help of Mike Bridges and Jay Scott grown to more than I dared to hope for. We have lots of fun every week and now almost a hundred or so of you tune in every week, thank you so much the talk shows means a lot for men and are a great way to stay in touch with the community and force me to try and stay on top of a myriad of topics.
The Fantasy Mapping Show is of to a good start thanks to my great co-hosts Alyssa and Jay, and we will try and improve in 2022. My vision for the show is for it t be a place to get ideas, inspiration and information about fantasy cartography to help beginners and seasoned veterans alike. We will try and stay away from turning it into a "How-To"" show, and not get bogged down in menus and detailed workflows. That is a side of the craft best suited for Live Mapping Streams, which I had a test run with on YouTube. To my surprise it was way more popular and rewarding than I thought, so it need to come back in 2022. I had a very problematic last try, due to both bad connection and an overloaded computer. I streamed in 1440p which seems a bit too much for my 5 year old computer, so worst case scenario I have to go down to 1080p until I get a better computer. It will be a pain to work in, but for a couple of hours a week I'm willing to sacrifice some ergonomics for a stable stream. With Jay having acquired Twitch partnership for his LordGosumba channel, I'm going to try and use Twitch for my Live Streams and piggy back on his fame a bit as a part of the Greyhawk Creatives Group.
Live Mapping Streams are something I will make into a regular feature for me with a weekly session. I need to invest in better gear like a better webcam, lighting and a capture card s I can separate the burden of video encoding onto separate computer and maybe a greenscreen to make better use of the screen real estate. I will try and hang it behind Minnie so she can still be a part of the show, we will see how it can be done best. The live streams can be deep dives into the minutia of the craft of fantasy cartography, and be a good compliment to the Fantasy Mapping Show and Legends & Lore. Centered on techniques and How To, but with room for how that ties into my campaign and Greyhawk in general.
Heraldry have become a new cherished field for me, and something I love to dig into a few hours a week, and the updated "Real Shields" series have been a huge success with lots of great feedback, so more is coming, way more in fact. I have a new batch almost ready to be published, about two hundred more of the existing shields to make over and a list of new design to do so it will be a regular part of my patreon going forward. I plan to expand it into tabard and battle stands as well.
A Heraldry Compendium is in the works for nest year. Format still TBD, but my thinking is along the lines of a series of 11x17 inch PDF like the atlas and a 24x36 inch poster sized PDF or two as well in print ready quality.
In the middle of the biggest map update since I started mapping the World of Greyhawk over twenty years ago, with a Hepmonaland and Ilse of Dread expansion as well as some small expansions in the other directions. The 576CY version is well under way with a few more sessions left before it is ready. I have a list of a bit over 50 items plus an experiment, I'm going to try out a set of Imperial borders for the Great Kingdom. That way I have four levels of borders instead of three which means I can divide up the North and South province into a bit more detail, this so the mentioned local baronies and similar divisions can be better visualized.
The start of the Atlas work is delayed a couple of weeks due to a Kobold Press emergency commission, and a delayed Griffon Lore Games commission. This has been a recurring theme last year and came back one last time during the holidays, but hopefully that is all done now and I can concentrate on Greyhawk for a couple of months getting it all done. This includes the Flanaess & Hepmonaland Map in both a 576CY and 598CY versions, and Atlas versions of both of them. Will probably keep me occupied until Gary Con, but will be worth it I hope. A good set of updated maps that can serve the community well until a new generation of GIS based maps are ready to replace them.
The massive undertaking to convert the existing maps into proper GIS (Geographical Information Systems) maps will begin in 2022. How long it will take depends on how many hands will work on it, and it will b an ongoing task from now on. First it will be to georeference existing data and associate proper symbols and texts to it, and then when that is done create style templates and then publish templates for different scales, sizes etc. I have only done small tests so far, so it is too early for me to say how long it will take.
One of many benefits with using GIS is tat once its done you can re-use the information when needed which will make future maps make direct use of the existing data. for example my Shield Lands maps will be able to import and then add detail to the large set of data created for the Flanaess. My goal is to dedicate capacity on my webserver to host map data than can me imported straight into QGIS and other GIS tools by anyone as a base for their own versions of Greyhawk.
After years of waiting it looks like 2022 might be the year when a new generation of terrain creation tools is coming. I've just downloaded a new alpha build of Gaea that has tiled builds and proper river tools. I know they are no stable and fully featured yet, but it is a start and I'm very eager to put them to the test. Both World Machine and Gaea now comes with PBR (Physics Based Rendering) materials so you can create texturing and export it properly to other tools like Blender and Unreal.
Game engines are coming of age in 2022 as well with Unreal Engine 5 coming out, and a voxel add on that might be the way to go is here as well. Voxels are bit like fancy Minecraft maps with higher resolution, and the nifty thing is that they can be changed easily afterwards. Things like digging a cave, carving out a road through the mountains and more can be done "in game" which might be very handy in a world management tool.
This spring when the 2022 editions of the Map and Atlas are done I will launch a new Patreon tier for those who want to have and maintain their own custom versions of the map for their own campaigns. I've been doing it for Jay, and I will open up 5 Patreon memberships at $50/month special tier. It is a lot of money but I think it can be worth it for some DM's who doesn't want to get and learn Adobe Creative Suite, and instead hire me a day er month to do the work. It can include anything from terrain edits, settlement changes, heraldry etc. You will hire me a day a month do work on your Greyhawk Campaign map!
If this is successful I might open up more than five spots, or it might not work out and have to be cancelled, we will see. Hopefully it can be a useful service for a few DM's who want to invest a lot more in their cartography. I'm regularly being asked to do this so I think it is worth testing out in a more formal way.
My Greyhawk campaign have existed as loose notes and sketchy maps along side my on and off playing for over thirty years, but now it is starting to take shape in a more organized way. Area and Settlement maps, NPC's, heraldry and history will be published regularly for my mid tier patron members and up. 2021 was a start with Auldet and Bogford, this year look forward to Dragonhide Caves, Serion Keep, Delard, Axeport, Critwall along with old Flan lore and NPC's from my Shield Lands as well as my take on ancient history of the Flanaess.
My goal was to reach 300 patreon members this year and thanks to you we exceeded that a little bit, thank you so much for making a dream come true for me - to work on Greyhawk maps every day!!!! 🙂
Lets make 2022 a great Greyhawk year!!
Hepmonaland is coming and here is a first look at my version of it, focusing on the lakes and rivers. The best published map of the continent we have are from TSR11374 - The Scarlet Brotherhood, a sourcebook I really appreciate but the map leaves a lot to be desired. Remember that this is a work in progress and my map is not finished yet!
My main problems with this map are not the styling, it is a good looking map, it is the geography that puzzles me. The rivers are sometimes missing and at other times they slip into two on their way to the ocean. Lets start when the Flanaess map ends at Tchlapac Lake. It has two rivers flowing into it but no run-off which is unusual in most places, but highly unlikely in a tropical rainforest climate. If the lake had been closer to the ocean I would have assumed that it was connected to it through tunnels, in this case I added a river flowing north west into the Pear Sea. This decision I made when mapping the northern Hepmonaland around 15 years ago, just filling in the rest and realized that it needs a bit of widening.
I've made highlands "blend in" with the surrounding lands much more using foothills and gradual tapering of the landscape and also working with different general elevation differences in the landscape. The TSR map lacks the dimension and depicts a flat looking landscape with some hills and mountains protruding here and there. In reality landscapes are much more undulating and gradually shifting with high plateaus, mesas and plains that are sloped in various direction. All of this without really qualify as hills or mountains.
The Ikani and Ibaz rivers have been given lots of tributaries and neighbouring smaller river systems. Jungles also don't stop growing 76 miles from the coast. I know it must be tempting for a traditional illustrator or artist to accentuate the coast like this to make them look pretty, but in my project we are out for a bit more accuracy, so the equator jungles extend to the coast for the most part. Especially on the eastern coast of Hepmonaland due to the more humid climate further south.
The Iyapo area wit its Adaro forest presented a challange. I see the southern, and especially the south western Hepmonaland as dry and hot desert with band of savannah south of the jungles near the equator. To try and fit a huge forest in the desert presented me with an interesting challenge to try and bring water to sustain a forest to this dry land. Thankfully the TSR map has no rivers at all in the SW Hepmonaland, so lets assume the western coast is of the more high and cliffy kind redirecting the flow from the western Kelo Hills mainly south. The rivers drain into a large shallow depression on a plateau creating a huge wetland that will be mainly overgrown with forest. Due to the tropical and humid climate in the region where some of the rivers feeding the Adaro it will receive at least some water all year round. A small runoff meanders down the mesa to the north west, filling up only only occasionally when the rains are extra abundant in the Kelo Hills.
The TSR map has another conundrum, Lake Keli. The Keli lacks a runoff, which I added flowing to the SW into the ocean near Byanbo. Just like the Adaro, Lake Keli in the hot climate probably evaporates way more than it dilutes into the ocean. So the river valley I have added will mainly be dry. Water evaporation creates a regional climate wet enough to enable the Tabo forest to grow and create very favorable conditions for agriculture around the lake.
Byanbo and the Ino Hills are said to have volcanoes in them so I made them a bit more impressive since Hepmonaland highlands are not described as either tall, great or in any other way significant. I'm taking this as a sign of interest on the writers and not a lack of geographical significance.
Here is a typical example that from a geographical view, the name being the most interesting bit of information. The TSR map is just a blank and what I've done so far is only the start, this island requires some more work to try and create a landscape with black rock pillars that can sing!
Work on the Map and Atlas 2021 updates are under way, and here is a work in progress screen shot of the Isle of Dread. I'll keep working on the terrain for another couple of weeks and hope to be able to get some more area covered. Ocean depths are almost done and terrain is progressing well, and I have a ton of settlement and symbol updates ready for November and December.
I'm so glad you like the my new take on heraldry, I think they are really cool and heraldry have become more and more a passion of mine and a topic that needs more attention. I made new versions without the edge and rivets which I think looks better, what do you guys think?
My Shield lands stuff will be simmering in the background until next year, but a few cool things will be coming in that area as well. More locations and heraldry at least, but main focus is on the updated main map and atlas.
When it comes to heraldry I'm thinking it might be better to skip the heraldry appendix this time and concentrate on the map and index parts of the Atlas. Might be better to save the effort for a dedicated Greyhawk heraldry compendium next year, what do you think?
Here are my Shield Lands Campaign slides from my Virtual Greyhawk Con presentation. It nearly finished set of point of interest maps for the Southern Shield Lands.
The buildings have no height yet but apart from that they are almost all in a finished state. I'll be back with finished versions with more backstory and heraldry in a couple of weeks.
When I started my Oerth planet model project it was to try and place the Flanaess position on the globe for my transition to use GIS. Then the more I got into mapping Oerth the more interested I got and starting to see possibilities and overlooked connections with the familiar stories of our favorite game setting. The geographic dimension of most fantasy setting seems to be rudimentary at best and Greyhawk follows that tradition of taking geography lightly and as a "mood setting backdrop" rather than a key aspect in shaping the stories. Science is telling us that the planet and its geographic aspects plays a central part in shaping all life, I think that should be the same for fantasy worlds as well and this project have given me a good opportunity to do some "Oerthly fantasy science"!
I've modeled the planet as I see it during the time of the Greyhawk campaign in the late 500's CY, as well as an version of Oerth in an ice age as well as during a hot climate. When and if you want to make use of ice ages and warmer periods in your campaign history will vary, but if you do there are some very interesting possibilities present themselves.
Almost all fantasy setting comes with mysterious ancient cultures present in relics, sites in remote places and monuments hidden away in now inhospitable realms. Why these civilisations choose to build in the far off hostile regions the stories rarely tells, and here I think a geo-historic approach can be very helpful in both inspiring and explaining stories like who built the cairns in the Cairn Hills for example. So lets take a deeper look at what Oerthly geography has to offer!
Civilizations need favorable and stable conditions to persists over long time to develop and thrive. In the map above I have marked out areas that are the most favorable over time for human like habitation, having a non arctic and non desert climate, and that are not prone to flooding in times of higher ocean levels. Interestingly the southern Flanaess, northern Hepmonaland and parts of the Amedio are well represented. This makes this region a prime candidate for the earliest civilizations, so maybe there are something into the idea of a human origin here evolving into Olman, Touv and Flan cultures.
With the data of were the best long term areas for a human like civilization are, lets plot out good locations for city building in these areas. Access to waterways are a key fact in this, and below is a map where I have done this for Oerth.
A number of familiar locations show up, like Greyhawk, Chathold, Prymp, Rel Deven, Irongate, Pontylver and Lo Reltarma. It might not be a coincidence that the eleven cities of Enstad, Courwood and Tringlee all are in this very stable and favorable location, the long lived elves could very well have used heir historic knowledge. Today there are many other places in the Flanaess that are better locations for a major settlement, the strength of these locations are that they remain usable even in the case of a drastically changed climate. Lets look into how a hotter and colder climate will affect settlement patterns across Oerth beginning back in early human history and try look at Greyhawk history from a geographical perspective.
Cold periods in history gives primitive humans and other civilizations new opportunities to expand across the planet in areas otherwise inaccessible, ocean levels are much lower creating land bridges, and the deserts are both smaller and less hot. Early hominids can begin spreading west and diversifying, this early ice ages is the first time of migrations, land migrations due to both lack of technology and large parts of the ocean are frozen over.
Then the Oerth climate begun to heat up...
A new world emerged where the oceans opened up and the land was often turned into scorching hot deserts. The western humans turned to the sea and migrated away from the heat towards the newly opened up north. A seafaring culture was created around what is now the western Dramidj, and back then is was connected to the tropics across oceans that have previously been deserts and steppes. This is the beginning of the Suel, the first great sea farers of Oerth. The Ur Flan where happy ruling the best lands on the planet with scant interest in exploring other parts of the world.
The Olman world was thrown into the sea, literary, and large parts of what was left was turned into desert. This delt such a blow to Olman development that they haven't really recovered from it since. The Olmans of the southern Hepmonaland was isolated giving rise to a new off-shot culture, the Touv. The Touv used favorable winds and ocean currents to reach both the great southern continent and Mentzeri in the middle of the Solnor.
The people that lived along the northern coasts of what would become the Baklunish lands enjoyed a favorable climate but the expanding gulf of Ghayar separated them turning them into the precursors of todays Baklunish and Oerids, the Bakluni ancestors on the wester side and the Oerids on the eastern.
Life like this went on for a long time but big changes where coming, winter was coming. Oerth was dragged into a new ice age with a cooling climate. This meant problems for some and new opportunities for others. the first to be hit by the oncoming cold was the Suel in the far north. They were forced to relocate south and came into conflict with the Balkuni, and to a lesser extent the Oerid that held lands further east. This meant hard fought battles for survival and the Suel was the less experienced in land warfare and was often driven to flee. The Suel fled in two directions, one smaller group of eastern Suel settlers along the Corian polar coast decided to try their luck and fled eastwards to the Thillonrian Peninsula and ended up occupying a group of larger islands in the northern Solnor east of mainland Flanaess that where exposed due to the sinking ocean levels. This group would later colonize the Thillonrian when the climate warmed up again.
The main part of the surviving Suel ended up on a plateau south of the Suel that was turning from being a desert into fertile lands with a set of large lakes and decided to stay. They would form the pinnacle of Suel civilization over the next 5000 years, but their memories of the wars with the Baklunish would remain in their tales...
The Oerids and the Baklunish divided up the tundra, steppes and huge forest of the Baklunish basin. The Oerids had their back towards the glacier covered Yatil, Crystalmist and Sulhaut ranges develop a fierce stance towards intruders so the Bakluni opted to spread west and south instead.
In the Flanaess the Flan now came into their cultural zenith developing large settlements and a multitude of large and powerful realms whos names have survived all the way into modern times. Conflict broke out with the demi humans and the Olmans in the south and a darker warlike side took hold.
Then winter began to ease its grip and the Flanaess we recognize is starting to emerge. The Balkuni had picked up strength and numbers in the west and south, and when the lands they where living in again turned to deserts, they moved north to reclaim their ancestral homelands. The Oerids were surprised by the renewed vigor of the Bakluni, and also tempted by the very promising opportunities in the east and north that the warming climate created. Instead of defending the lands turning into desert they stated migrating in ever larger numbers north and east through the newly opened Thornward gap.
The Suel saw their arch enemy move in north of the Sulhauts, their plateau was fast turning into the desert it used to be and plans for a revenge started circulating, and the rest we know..
This is far from complete story, I have left out the humanoids and several other actors. It shows an interesting way you can use geography and climate to inspire, support and help out in creating a more interesting and deep fantasy world.
Let's take a closer look at the Flanaess and how we can use this.
Below is the Flanaess in cold times with good sports for settlements in the cold and persistent times.
Then a look at hot Flanaess
and then combine all of the info on the current map and we get some interesting results...
Now we can see likely ancients site and the period they hail from. I can see interesting backstory possibilities for the lair of Dramidj, the Egg of Coot, ruins in the Barrens, the Land of Black ice and the coast of the Tiger Barbarians where Myrlund resides. I'm sure there are more interesting connections to get from this, time to get creative!
This is going to be one of the topics for my seminar on Virtual Greyhawk Con on Friday.
Thank you again for making this possible!! 🙂