This post is a month late, sorry for hinting at things and that information is coming and then keeping things to myself. The main reason for this are that my mother got a cancer diagnosis a month ago and even though I live 5000 miles away from here there was still a lot of things to take care of, just in case of the worst. The prognosis looks much better that what we feared initially, and she is undergoing surgery tomorrow. My calendar for this fall have also been in limbo for a couple of weeks and I've just now confirmed that there will be way more time for me to work on Greyhawk maps this summer and fall, there are some advantages with a pandemic! I'll tell you more of what has been postponed to next year soon when it it official, in the meantime lets dive into what is going on right now and what I'm working on!
The Fantasy Mapping Show
Alyssa Faden and me have decided that we need to talk about maps more, so with the help of Jay Scott aka. Lord Gosumba we are starting a new Twitch Show "The Fantasy Mapping Show" which will be a monthly two hour show about all aspects of Fantasy Cartography, from the Underdark to Space, from rooms to worlds and from painting to programming. We want to hear from you to know what topics you want us to cover! First episode will be Friday June 18th @7pm EST on https://www.twitch.tv/lordgosumba
Thank you again for the wonderful reception of my first Oerth planet model, this have given me a taste for more! I'm looking into variants like ice-age and historic (geologic time) versions to drill deeper into the topic. Dissecting Oerth is another interesting project related to this. My own campaign ideas are that the planet actually hosts the inner planes, there of comes the name. The elemental planes are actually a dimension of the planet itself, and elemental interaction creates both underdark realms, a fantasy version of plate tectonics and can be a driver of climate. This way things can be adjusted a bit as needed. A more conventional planet model need to be looked into as well.
My Shield Lands campaign are up and running after a bit of struggling start. The party is still in Auldet in Shield lands and are fighting hard to retake the keep from the Iuz priests who are now countering with laying siege to the village with the animated corpses of all the inhabitants they have killed during their 15 year occupation. The maps of the area are coming together and live up to my expectations, there will be much more coming this summer in the form of Shields Lands map coverage as a first test of my new mapping standard.
This project have been in the launching phase for two years now, I haven't had the workflow or tools ready to give Lens Islands justice until now that is. I will map Lendore Isle and its smaller sister islands in 5ft/px detail just like my Shield Lands Campaign maps. Detailed enough to see individual houses, roads and trees.
For a year my Patreon have operated under "pandemic conditions", having all post public as a way for those who could afford to spend money on very much non-essential things like fantasy maps. Thanks to so many of of you have continued to support me I've been able to keep up my Greyhawk related work the past year, thank you so much everyone!!
Now it is time to both go back to normal and shake things up a bit, start looking forward and make plans for the future. I have had my goals and tiers the same for the past three years, and to be honest my Patreon Goals was more than a bit fussy and something I just filled out to get things going. Support for my Greyhawk mapping endeavour is now solid at around $900/month which means I can schedule a large chunk of time every week to work on my Greyhawk projects. So what can be done with more resources, what do I want to do with more money?
My computers are four and five years old, still functioning but getting a bit out of date and lacks performance. Anyone who have tried to buy powerful computers have noticed that it has been hard to find certain parts and prices have been and still are absurdly high. So computer investments have to be postponed for a while, maybe next year will be more sane when it comes to computer hardware.
The next big leap in my map making will be to start using GIS (Geographical Information systems) tools and standards. I've been prepping myself knowledge wise for this one for several years, and soon ready to launch a new GIS based edition of my Greyhawk maps. My Oerth modeling is a step in this, figuring out the placement of the Flanaess. When we reach $1000/month will be the official go ahead for this. It is initially very time consuming referencing and then placing everything on the current map properly on the planet, but worth it for the flexibility and usability of the date once defined. Maps with different styles, sizes and publishing methods will be much easier to create, for example online versions of the map.
My plan with GIS is to create a repository for Greyhawk geo data that can be downloaded and used in QGIS and other cartography tools the same way you would use real world data. QGIS is an open source tool so the cost are none, but you still need a bit of knowledge to create your own versions of the map which is unfortunately true regardless of how you try and do it. The GIS Goal is also an important step leading up to my next goal.
If we can reach $1500/month it is time for something I'm getting asked all the time, prints! With GIS making it much easier to create a variety of map versions specially made for print, and the resources for me to do test prints to make sure they look right. The test prints will then be raffled out among Patreon members and used at conventions as promotion. It would be a dream come true to have the money to do cool prints, so far I've only printed my Flanaess map in full once, on over 60 sheets of 11x17 inch photo papers, which took days and cost more than I dare to think of on my ink jet, using up more than a dozed cartridges. Low cost generic ones, but still over $100, print is expensive. To help out with this I'm in talks with Noble Dwarf , who does prints and apparel and is located not too far from me. They have done some great work for other cartographers so I'm sure we can get something going when we have the resources. Will make prints easier to order and less costly, but we need to have a series of different maps of different sizes for this!
The highest goal I'm going to list here now is $2000/month, and if we can reach that its time to level up into the world of Game Engines. The workflow I'm developing now is with the intent for the data to be used in a Game Engine like Unreal or Unity. This requires major investment in both time, software and knowledge. I've been looking at this field for several years and I think it is a major tool in the future for visualising, but also to make customization a lot easier. This is a full time commitment but with this technology it is possible take Fantasy mapping truly to the next level. I've seen a lot of promising projects in the small scale, but nothing on a world level which is where I want to start. Some VTT's and Campaign managers have robust API's which makes interaction possible, and having an interactive world atlas in a new form!
The three current tiers have some glaring issues, the main one is the $3 tier has been sadly neglected and underused. Haven't been able to create a lot of my own campaign content, and most of it should go directly to all of you and then to the whole Greyhawk community as my other content. The other tier problem is that the $1 tier is plagued by the fact that a disproportional amount of the money get lost in fees.
To try and fix this and also make sure that my Patreon is still accessible without a huge investment each month I suggest an updated tier structure:
$2 Adventurer Tier
All the stuff from the $3 tier for a bit of less money. Giving you early access to all my maps right away including Discord. What happens to the ones who are $1 tier? You will be grandfathered into the new $2 tier and stay on it for $1 as long as you keep your membership active.
$5 Cartographer Tier
Will continue to be the "technical" tier giving you "How To" and other articles, source material and similar stuff. Some of that will be available for everyone later and some will be for the tier members only.
$10 "Vanity" Tier
I sometimes get asked, how do go about pledging more? I'm so humbled by this and haven't really known what to do, what to give and such. Of course I want to make it possible for those of you who want to support me more. This Tier will get you a special mention on maps, on my website and promotional material. This can be your name, logo or some other message. For legal purposes I have to state the following: I retain the right to not publish names or images I find inappropriate for any reason.
Special blog posts where I discuss project ideas and things to come before posting them to the other tiers are another treat I can offer, but to be blunt this is a tier primarily for those of you who want to be my biggest supporters.
The New tiers and their Annual plans will start July 1st.
Flanaess Map and Atlas 2021 Edition
I have a whole Evernote notebook full of map updates and I keep working on the new edition a few hours a week editing and doing research. The Atlas Edition will be expanded south to include the Ilse of Dread and other islands in the Vohun Ocean. Work on the terrain have already started, and my goal is to have the new editions ready this fall. I haven't decided the format for the Atlas yet. Last years remake with a "double"11x17 inch format was cool, but a lot of extra work and also had the drawback of being put together in Photoshop, which meant loosing the vector quality of text and symbols. I have to make some nest of better ways to do it that are both effective, useful and keep the vector quality.
Thank you so much for making this possible!! :)