Friday, 27 November 2009

Elesalia - a closer look.

Zooming in.

In the previous post, I gave an outline of how I drew up the overall world map. Now I had it but it was on a massive scale. One sheet of A3 covered thousands of miles. I knew that if I wanted to get closer, I had to get local. Then I came across the large-scale maps of the Flanaess, drawn up on Corel by Anna Bernemalm. If you haven’t come across these yet, do yourself a favour and take a look.

Each of these map sheets seemed to be about 300 miles west to east and about 400 miles north to south.

I divided my main map into a grid and numbered each box. Then I started working on the larger-scale maps, concentrating on the area around Stonegarth Hold, the fastness that I intended would serve as the jumping-off point for the wilderness exploration.

I selected an area on the 300 x400 map, on the border between civilisation (Tremantor) and the wilderness. I decided to have a river port there, which would serve as the base town from which the players would explore the sandbox. Just beyond the south-east corner of the hex sheet, about a hundred miles from the base town would be the megadungeon, the Monastery of Doom.

The Sandbox.

I had originally, following from the How to Build a Sandbox series on Bat in the Attic,

set the scale at 6 miles per hex, but this didn’t quite ring true for me; with a party travelling at anything up to twenty miles a day, they could be across the map in a week or so. Ten miles seemed a better scale for me. Another reason for increasing the scale was that it allowed each hex to theoretically harbour a number of different threats and features without them all being virtually on top of each other.

I tried initially to generate possible encounters for each hex by use of the wilderness encounter table in the DMG but after some giant rats and a bombardier beetle (oh no, not bombardier beetles – it’s Tomb of Horrors all over again!), I gave up on that and came up with a different solution. Whilst not planning every hex out in intricate detail, I came up with a list of geographically evocative names that I thought might serve as suggestion points and hooks for possible adventures when the party came to that particular hex. I wanted them to be suggestive enough to give me ideas but not so restrictive that they constrained my spontaneity. And as only I see the map, there's nothing to stop me changing one if the need arises.

I list them here, just in case some out there might not be able to read my writing (it has been known!). If anyone wants to borrow some or all of them, feel free. There are many more to come.

The Bone Highway
Deathrider Dale
The Shades
The Shallows
Broken Shield Deeps
Silver Wolf Marshes
Moaning Caves
Shadowholt Wood
Crow Fields
Ogre’s Ford
Skeleton Tower
Shrine of the Silver Knight
Axehead Hills
Gnoll’s Dell
Rustblade Hills
Dead Elf Dale
Bloodsword Cliffs
Burnt Man’s Haunt
The Grey Ravines
Bugbear Bluffs
Firedrake Wilds
Griffon Wastes
Troll Tunnels
Trollsblood Vale
Slaughter Field
The Bog of Reth
Stakehead Dale
Hellspring Mountain
Crumbling Castle
Darkshade Caverns
The Knife
Catacombs of Sharnassa
Ironstone Cliffs
Greyshale Valley
Krag’s Grave
Dog Solitude
Wolf’s Maw Mountain
Firebreath Forest
Moon Mere
Valley of Dead Horses
Claw Wood
The Grims
Watchful Eyes
Redtooth Peak
Ratman’s Hill
Wolfsfang wood
Bear Canyon
Spider Wood
Dwarf’s End
Goblin’s Pass
The Cold Mounds
Burnt Tower
Black Wood
Orcskull Hills
The Old Fortress
Sunblood Temple
Trapsoul Forest
The Empty Miles
Singing Sword Hills
The Fearstones.

Rolling dice to randomise the distribution (so as to avoid any unconscious bias on my part as to what I wanted in each hex), I came up with the following map, which will serve as the sandbox for the players. They will start from the river town of Antiar’s Landing and make their explorations across the river and into the Wilderness.

In the next post on this subject, I’ll be outlining a few ideas that some of the hooks above have generated and talking about wandering monsters and wilderness encounters.

1 comment:

  1. those are some very evocative names! I particularly like the Valley of Dead Horses, the Spider Wood (brings me straight back to the Hobbit, which is never a bad thing) and the Bog of Reth.

    I have always loved bogs, swamps, sea marshes and the like - nothing quite like a skeletal tree sticking out of a black swamp covered in low-lying mists to get the PCs spooked. May I suggest the Froghemoth from the 1e Monster Manual II as a potential encounter in the swamp? Just look at that thing!