Friday, July 22, 2005

[Chorus] Maps

I love maps.

Love'em, love'em, love'em. Both real-world maps and fantasy maps, for me. It's something I get from my father, who has drawers and drawers of good ol' US Topo, puts them up on the walls as decoration, recuts and resassembles them to make his own map for every step he takes.

But fantasy maps suck.

I mean, of course, that they suck for my purposes.

First of all, some of them simply suck. The old "rectangular continent" trick is just ridiculous. They may or may not have any regard for real geography. They probably have no regard for real economics or politics, drawing country lines in easy square boxes like America's empty corridor states. These maps are simply sucky.

But there can also be awesome maps that just suck for my purposes. Because, you see, I am a role-player.

Maps are system.

"You can't get there in two days! It's over 100 miles away!"
"There's no way this is empty wilderness. We marked a city right here on the map."
"How could there be a lake here? We're in the middle of a desert."

Maps can destroy creative input just as much as they encourage it.

Chorus, as a text, is not probably going to have a system so much as it is going to tell you "I've used Sorcerer and Riddle of Steel for this sort of scenario, and this is how I did it" or "when playing D&D, I used a feat that looked like this" And, as such, it seems silly to me to have a Map of the sort that one usually sees in fantasy books and fantasy games. Against the point of the book.

But I love maps. And I want maps in the book.

But we reach another stumbling block.

The world around Chorus has no real geography. Each time I draw it, it looks different. Sometimes it looks like Europe, somethimes like East Asia, sometimes like Africa upside down, and once it was an island chain. This presents a certain problem in establishing where everything is, because I don't know. Omelas is a particularly bad offender, winking in and out of existence, moving along the western coast and sometimes as south as Thalia. How can you map this?

Problem solved


Blogger Joshua BishopRoby said...

Not entirely sure how the referenced webpage solves your problem, but I addressed a similar issue here: The Freeform Setting.

12:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I, too, need a hint.

2:42 AM  
Blogger Vincent Baker said...

Those maps are, like, schematics, not maps. More like concept maps than geographical maps.

I think that's awesome. I think you're exactly right, Ben.

4:57 AM  
Blogger Ben said...

What Vincent said, guys.

8:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is Chorus?

10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Definitely a good way to do it. Our modern idea of mapping would be completely anachronistic in a medieval-era fantasy world, in addition to being difficult technologically/organizationally.

I'm really irked the ubiquitous D&D-style employer handing out a nice little map for the group to look at, or the group drawing up such a map itself. To us moderns, thinking about geography through the lens of a top-down map seems inhernetly logical, but most people have had to just rely on memory, landmarks, and verbal directions.

8:40 PM  
Blogger Matt Wilson said...

Cool. Abstract maps are teh good.

12:46 AM  

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