Atlas 576 CY - Master Index

2020-09-14

Here is the Atlas Master Index, and it is thanks to amazing job by Duane Costa it was possible to compile a list of all the names with their location on the maps this quickly. The index fills 28 pages each 11 x 17 with two columns on each page.

You can find PDF and JPG versions in the Atlas Dropbox Folder:
https://bit.ly/GH-Flanaess-Atlas576CY-2020REV2  

Next up is index and credits!

576 CY Atlas Overview Maps

2020-09-10

Here comes the overview maps for the Atlas of the Flanaess 576 CY, they come in the standard "satellite" and political, each of the with or without the map layout squares.

You can get them and all the other Atlas maps here: https://bit.ly/GH-Flanaess-Atlas576CY-2020REV2 

This should have been ready a week ago, but there have been an unusual amount of "real life events" making life a bit more difficult around here lately, temperatures above 115F, two large fires within 20 miles with massive amounts of smoke causing power outages and the still ongoing pandemic. Thankfully the temperatures are now back below 100F and power is stable again, one have to try and stay positive 🙂

The index is now ready for formatting and page design, so I'll work on that as well as legend, credits and covers next. After that it's time for the appendices, heraldry and module locations.

I hope you are all safe and thank you again so much for making it possible for me to work on this, in times like this that means extra much!!

Symbols will get some love...

2020-08-31

 

An essential but often overlooked part of mapping are symbols, the little bits of art that are put on maps to convey all sorts of information. The symbols I use on my Greyhawk maps are over two decades old now it was one of the first things I did when I set out to map the Greyhawk setting.

More detailed maps would need way more symbols and also more variation, to indicate various aspects of the feature the symbol indicated. My design was based on the symbols of the Darlene map, with a lot of additions and a few tweaks. I shill like them and thing they work, for the most part, but my design skills and the tools I used back then where not much to brag about, so an update is needed.

The Atlas will mark the end of a generation of maps made using Illustration tools like Corel Draw and then the last ten years Adobe Illustrator. Future maps will be made using GIS, various 3D software and still some Illustrator, so a solid set of symbols is needed. Several sets in fact, my intention is to give my existing set of symbols a work over making sure they are less scruffy and look well even in large sizes.

Two new symbol sets, at least, will be needed. Larger scale maps that will move in closer and showing much more detail will need and new set of symbols for things like urban areas, city walls and more. All the symbols I've used so far have been very useful for reference maps mainly used by the DM to who what the world actually looks like. Traditional RPG maps are more of the type of map the characters would use to navigate the world, handout maps. These maps need a whole new set of symbols to depict things like towns and cities, of a more illustrative tradition found on fantasy maps.

Getting all this done is a long term project that will take a year or two to get done, but the first step is to the existing symbols ready for a round of edits to get improve them. I did most of the symbols on an early version of Corel Draw back in the 90's and then imported them into Illustrator and added some more. There a number of inconsistencies that become painfully visible when you enlarge them, but its a necessary step to see what can be kept and what needs to be redone from scratch.

So I have enlarged all my exiting symbols and saved them as PNG's with a transparent background to make it easier to use them as a reference image. They are all available here: http://bit.ly/GH-Symbols-Folder

Future symbols sets will be available here as well when they are ready.

Atlas Overview Map test

2020-08-26

Here is a first Overview Map test. The page size gives a format that is not the best for showing the Flanaess in its entirety, so I'm trying here to compensate by cropping a bit at the top and bottom. The landmass is a bit skewed to the left, which is unavoidable when no landmass is available to the west. This is a compromise that I hope is acceptable.

The other issue is image resolution and detail level. When you reduce the size of an image there are inevitable loss of quality, but how to best deal with it and is the result good enough.  

For this test I have removed all the text and settlements symbols for things smaller that metropolises and capitals. Only major roads and national borders are shown and heraldry are removed as well.

Please download the full quality image here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/etg7nnnh95w88qo/Overview%20test%201.jpg?dl=0

Flanaess 576 CY Atlas Index RC1

2020-08-25

Thanks to the hard work of Duane Costa we now have a raw form of the Master Index to go with the Atlas. Here is a first version of it in Excel format: https://www.dropbox.com/s/2dyh4kts0e1jcrx/Master%20Index%20RC1.xlsx?dl=0

Take a look at it and please report any issues to me using my contact page. The final formatting of the Index will start next week, so it can be added to the final Atlas in October.

Next to do on the atlas are the overview and political maps.

Atlas progress report!

2020-08-15

I'm proud to report that all the 50 area maps are now ready, on time even!

You can find them here: https://bit.ly/GH-Flanaess-Atlas576CY-2020REV2

This doesn't mean that the 576 CY Atlas project is done, far from it, but it is an important milestone.  There are crucial parts left to do, the index needs to be finalized, covers, overview map, political map, legend and heraldry appendix needs to be made as well. The plan is to have it all ready for Virtual Greyhawk Con, October 2nd.

Some of this work is already well under way. Thanks to Duane Costa's hard work on indexing that he has done in parallel, a master index will be ready soon. As a part of weeding out errors a raw version of it will be coming soon, so those who want to help can verify spelling and data so we can make it as good as possible for the release. 

In the meantime I will work on the covers, legend, political and overview maps, and finally the the appendix. So far I have only the heraldry appendix planned, but I'm open for more ideas. The appendixes might not be fully done and ready for the VGHC, the priority is to have the main atlas ready. 

Now I'm going to take a few days off from the Atlas and delve into Oerth Climate, my Shield Lands Campaign and QGIS.

Thank you so much everyone for making this possible!!! 🙂

Atlas and Shield Lands progress report.

2020-08-09

I hope you are all staying safe and get some time to plan and play some Greyhawk games!

My 576 CY Atlas work is progressing with 43 out of the 50 areas mapped, an I hope to have all 50 done next week. Then it's time to do overview maps, political maps, index, covers and a few other extras to make it into a complete atlas. 

My Shield Lands Campaign map is in the tedious phase of water system design. This is a very important feature to make a map "realistic", logical, and rich in detail, and often overlooked. It is not only finished maps that are missing detailed water ways, I have so far only used one terrain creation tool that have at least a token support for this and that is ancient Wilbur. All modern tools that have come along afterwards have no, or very little support for draining the terrain properly. There is a lot of talk about this feature in the road map of almost all the terrain tools, but to my dismay it seems to almost always be in the future.

This means that I have to manually program and edit all rivers using World Machine, which takes longer that the rest of the terrain creation combined. The image below is a screenshot of the 30 mile area of the southern Shield Lands that will be the starting area for my next campaign. 

The colors are a combination of elevation colors, flat mask rivers and flow lines that I use for this type of work. The tiny little blue streaks are the flow lines and they indicate where tiny rivers and creeks can be. I will manually mask them in Photoshop afterwards along with the rivers. The rivers and lakes that are on the map are the whole river beds, which means that this is the are the tend to fill at maximum flow. Most times a smaller flow is meandering through the river bed.

It is almost ready for rendering, only a few gitech here and there that I need to fix. Then it is time for proper texturing and vegetation. Below is a map showing the area I'm working on, the red square is the area of interest. This will take me about two months to map, but with proper tools and more experience I think I can bring that down to around two weeks. 

Mapping Shield Lands for my Campaign

2020-07-25

Its been almost two years since I run my last Greyhawk game which is way too long, and plans for a new campaign is underway. Being passionate about maps and having them playing a key role I want my next campaign to make use of maps to present the area of the campaign in rally high detail, and elevate the surroundings from backdrop to be treated more like a mega dungeon without walls or roof. 

The area I've chosen for my next campaign is southern Shield Lands, or what used to be Shield Lands before the Greyhawk Wars. Adventuring will start in the winter of 598 CY - 599 CY and a post war reality have been around for some time. The characters will start in the village of Auldet placed in the low Serion Hills near the cost of Nyr Dyv along the old Aerdy road from Radigast City to Critwall. The first stages of the campaign will be set in the area between Critwall, Axeport and Gensal as life in Auldet is torn into the power struggle between the rulers of these places and other outside interests.

So I need a map  that covers an area roughly 100 x 100 miles, showing all the necessary detail for an in depth sandbox style game play, at a resolution of 5 ft per pixel this means a map 100,000 pixels across. Large area fantasy terrain maps this detailed have been a tantalizing but impossible dream, until now. A new generation terrain tools and powerful computing become more affordable means I will be able to make use of the skills I've acquired mapping Midgard and other settings the last 5 years. 

This project will require the use of an whole range of tools like World Machine, Gaea, Photoshop, QGIS, Illustrator and they will all be needed for this project.

My goals are to:

  • Create a 3D terrain map with a resolution of 5-10 ft.
  • Georeference it for use in QGIS
  • Accurate placement of settlements and its buildings to make it easy to create encounter maps as needed.
  • QGIS geopackage with objects links to my campaign data in notion.
  • Player versions of the maps for use in Fantasy Grounds
  • Create terrain meshes, textures and splat maps for use future use in Unreal or other game engines.

The first part of this is to do the terrain modeling which will be done in World Machine. It is the only tool that at the moment to support terrain and river creation in this much detail over an area this big. My work on Lendore Isle and Ratik that have only been partly successful have taught me that you need to work in stages to get the quality high enough. One of the biggest problems when you work with 3D creation software is the see what you're doing. When you work in CAD and accuracy is key that limitation is not too much of a problem, but when your work is more creative and it is the look and feel of things that are key it is a severe limitation. There are workarounds that helps a bit and work in stages, creating major features first and export the data. Then import the data again, adjust and add the fine details.  Fractals are fickle and with this level of complexity results vary each time to calculate, especially when using preview shortcuts.  By using already rendered data you can work on a sable terrain when you add details and work on the texturing. Below is how much of the area that I have ready for the next step.

The drawback with this method is that you need lots of memory to hold all the data you need to work with. My computer has 128GB of RAM and can barely handle the whole 100 x 100 mile area, so I'm plan to upgrade to a computer with at least twice as much RAM later this year. Having a lot more CPU, faster storage will also speed things up a lot. Its not only on the hardware side of things that there are progress, new software also makes it possible to work with larger data sets more effectively. Better tiling, parallel processing than make better use of the many cores of new CPU's and the massive calculation capacities of the latest GPU's. Combine this with GIS (Geographical Information Systems) and Game Engines, database technology and we can look forward to some awesome tools to visualize and keep track of our future gaming. What have been the domain of computer gaming is now becoming powerful enough to be of real use for us tabletop gamers as well. 
The main hurdle still to be addressed for DM's who want to make use if this in their games is the enormous difficulty editing it to make it usable in your games. My current Flanaess map requires Adobe Illustrator and a fair bit of knowledge on how to use it, this needs to be made easier. This is my major long term goal, to try and makes the content I create easier to use and adapt as needed by each user. I have many ideas for how to try and make it happen, but now I'm getting sidetracked a bit too much so more about this topic later.

For landscapes to be both interesting and believable they need to have evidence of water, the exception being dry planets and unnaturally dry areas that have never experienced significant rainfall. Most fantasy worlds are full of life, and the water that sustains it which means a system of lakes and rivers, that in most cases transport the water to the ocean. The biggest rivers and lakes of the Flanaess where already on the Darlene map, and I added to that on my Flanaess map. All in all that means that the the biggest rivers are already mapped in low detail. The vast amount of small water ways and lakes are still to be added. When it comes to lakes there are areas that should have more mid size lakes, so expect more lakes in the wetter areas. 

Below is an image showing the river system west of Delard and the Santin River estuary with a bit of the Nyr Dyv shoreline veering south west. It is very much a work in progress and not properly textured yet, only simple colors to help me get the small rivers and lakes in place. The area covered is roughly 5 miles across. I've added several small lakes a that are up to about a quarter mile or so in size and started to put in the creeks connecting them. There will be more little rivers/creeks added to connect this water system to the Nyr Dyv and not all of the harsh blue colored areas will be lakes and rivers, some will be wetlands of various type. 

Below is an earlier version of the same area with a river and wetlands that got lost to some fickle fractal change when I  exported it. My current Flanaess map is overlaid for reference which give you s clue to how much more detail I'm trying to create.

Next is a first study of the area around Barge a little hamlet in a small bay along a hilly part of the coast. The name comes from the frequent Rhenee visits especially in winter months where the secluded location gives good protection from cold winds. Again this is a work in progress image that is not properly textured and lack creeks and vegetation. It is just the elevation data with a bit of a pleasing coloration on top, but it is looking very promising.

Promo 6
Next is a couple of square miles of the Serion Hills terrain top down sample. Again not proper texturing, just a quick and dirty placeholder texture. But the detail is good and the variation OK, with heaps of boulders and rocks in various places. With creeks, vegetation and proper texturing I think it will be a great outdoor adventuring map. 

Lets end this first look at my Shield Lands Campaign map project with a couple of overviews. The first one is top down preview of the base elevation model before stage 1 export. This whole area are only 150 pixels across on my existing Flanaess map, this preview is 10 times more detailed. 

and a second one showing the elevation.

Work on this map will continue a day a week, with work on creeks and lakes next. I'll post updates showing the progress and going into the detail of how things are made. Next installment will be a look at the stage 1 Base Terrain setup in world Machine. I just need to organize the file enough so it understandable.  

I hope to present the first finished part of the map around the village of Auldet for Greyhawk Con in October. It will be one topic in my Campaign seminar on Friday October 2nd on the Lord Gosumba Twitch channel.  

Thank you much for your support, giving me the chance to delve deep into Greyhawk. Tomorrow I'll start the Atlas project back up again!

Making Progress...

2020-07-15

My main project this summer is the Atlas of the Flanaess 576 CY, and I'm glad to report is coming along according to plan. Map 1-27 is already done and you can get them here: https://bit.ly/GH-Flanaess-Atlas576CY-2020REV2

The Atlas is my attempt to create an atlas of the Greyhawk setting that can be printed or used digitally. The Flanaess will be covered on 50 maps, each of the covering a 11x17 inch two page spread, and will be available as print quality PDF's both with and without bleed as well as a combined JPG format for digital use.

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The atlas will come with a master index listing everything on the map, and that work is being being done in parallel by Duane Costa, a huge thanks to Duane for helping me out with that labour intensive part!

There will be overview maps, political maps and more when it is all done in october. The plan is to have it ready for Virtual Greyhawk Con and it will be one of the topics for my seminar at the con.

The other main topic will be my own Greyhawk campaign and of course it will be presented with maps, lots of maps! Anew updated Flanaess Campaign Map will be available in time for the seminar so you can see all the weirdness going on in my take on our beloved setting.

My next campaign will be set in the Shield Lands in 598 CY, a land now divided between the Knights of Holy Shielding, Iuz, Morgenstaler and a couple of unknown factions as well, all trying to outmaneuver each other in the struggle to take and keep control of the torn lands between the Veng River, the Rift Canyon, the White Plume Mountain and the Nyr Dyv.

One of the major tools for this campaign will be a new set of Greyhawk maps covering a large area of the Shield Lands at a detail few fantasy worlds have ever been seen at, and you will have a chance to take a peek at it during my seminar.

I will take a week off from my Atlas mapping to catch up on social media, work more on the Shield Lands map, my Oerth project and this website adding old stuff that have been asked for, making it available again.

Thank you again all for all your support, very much appreciated and make sure to stay safe!

Errors, Taxes and Virtual Greyhawk Con

2020-06-30

Quick update, and lest start with an error on the Atlas maps. I have forgot to make the sea lanes layer visible on some of the latest maps I've done. So please hold off on printing them until I have corrected map done and uploaded, which will be a couple of days. I don't have to re-do everything, just a few changes and then a new export. I'm so sorry for the inconvenience. I'll post here again when the corrected maps are ready.

Now on to another important issue that I forgot to post about earlier sorry about this late post. Due to new laws passing in several countries and US states, Patreon will be required to start charging sales tax on some pledges starting July 1st. 

Less than half of all patrons will be charged sales tax, and for most, the amount will be very small. For example, sales tax rates in the US range from 4% to 11%, so on a $5 pledge, that would be between 20 cents and 55 cents. 

Whether or not you will be charged sales tax depends on your location, and what is considered taxable there. Not every pledge is taxable, not all benefits are taxable in every location, and sometimes only a fraction of a pledge will be taxable. The money that Patreon collects as a result of these laws are paid directly to local governments.

I’m working closely with Patreon to ensure I’m able to save you as much money as possible when it comes to sales tax - which is not something that’s possible with other platforms.

If you’re in a location where sales tax will be required, you should expect to receive an email from Patreon with more information about this very soon, but I wanted to make sure you were aware of these changes way ahead of July 1st when they go into effect. 

If you have questions, you should be able to find answers here. If you still have questions, the best place to get an answer is from Patreon’s customer support team, here

Now onto more fun stuff - Virtual Greyhawk Con!

This convention is a collaboration between a number of Twitch Streamers and other Greyhawk creators to get together virtually to play games set in - and talk about the setting.   

Here is a link to the con page on Tabletop Events: https://tabletop.events/conventions/virtual-greyhawk-con-2020

I'm going to have a 2 hour seminar, with the focus on my campaign. It will be lots of maps of course but also talk about what is going on in my version of the setting. New campaign map goodies will be revealed, and I plan to officially release the Atlas! 

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