Monday, January 11, 2010

Love those maps (Greyhawk Edition)!

Have I ever mentioned I love maps?

From the maps of Judges' Guild's Wilderlands to those of Middle Earth or Harn, few things get me in that 'ol gaming mood like some awesome old-school cartography. One of the best, obviously, is the map of Gary Gygax's Greyhawk campaign setting lovingly hand-crafted by Darlene. I mean, just take a look at that for a minute. Go ahead, I'll wait.

Pretty cool, huh? I mean, most of us have looked at this map, pored over it to put it more accurately, and yet it's still fascinating! Trace a line from hex to hex from Lake Quag along the mighty Velverdyva River to the free city of Dyvers. You can almost picture the scenery as you pass along the edge of the Clatspur Mountains, through the sylvan vales of Highfolk, across the wide plains of fanatic Veluna, past the sagging wharves of Verbobonc, beneath the shady boughs of the Gnarley Forest, and at last to Dyvers, where the river empties into the Nyr Dyv and its unfathomable depths. Who needs adventure modules? A map like this and some good random charts and you've got months of gaming in one full color, living-room-floor-sized work of beautiful fantasy art.

To me, the sign of a great map is its ability to convey adventure without cracking open a single guidebook or gazeteer, and this map has that ability in spades.


  1. I like how it looks organic with the shoreline and rivers, but it really snaps to the hex grid for usability in play. The only places where you'd need to carefully reproduce the map's lines to propogate the next level of hexes down are at the shores, and that's only if you wanted to get picky.

    Note also that every single hill and tuft of grass is different (yes I've spent time poring over this map too). No copy and paste. The mountain ranges are a true work of art.

    Now if only we had an atlas that drove down to 1/7th hexes.

  2. I think you hit it square on the head: the sign of a great map *is* its ability to convey adventure. That might be why I like hex maps so much: there's the ease with which you can determine terrain, features, and scale, but also the nostalgic bit that reminds me of early gaming days.

  3. I like the economy of the terrain symbol placement, combined with the colored hexes it conveys the nature of a hex's terrain while keeping it clean and "cool"

  4. A cartogrophile gaming geek? How unprecedented. ;)

    I like the Darlene map. But I *love* maps in the Atlas of Middle Earth. Would Beleriand be improved by a hex grid?

  5. I would venture that anything can be improved by application of a hex grid. The next time I have the opportunity to tile a floor or a patio, it'll be with hexes.

  6. "few things get me in that 'ol gaming mood like some awesome old-school cartography."

    I'm right there with you--I love this stuff.

    And 1d30--I've been considering the same thing for the backyard hut I just built for my son.



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