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Thread: Map edges

  1. - Top - End - #1
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Map edges

    I've always like to know what's at the edges of fantasy maps, and one of my pet peeves is when it's "umm... mountains? Shaped like a box. Utterly impassible, even if the character is a wilderness guide and the alternative is going through the underworld (and other mountains)."

    I'll admit that sometimes a low effort answer the right call. Mountains, desserts, and oceans did separate places beyond political relevancy. I can't blame a hard pressed DM from just saying "Non sunt hic dracones" on blank map spaces and telling the players the meta information that nothing there will matter to them.

    But I do like the high effort answers. What's in that direction is interesting, if not relevant. A group of adventures could go there and struggle, but not travel so far the map needs another edge.

    This also seems like a great candidate for collaborative writing, as it's suppose to be disjoint.

    I'll share some of my ideas, and you all can add yours or add elaborations to mine.

    Spoiler: The Poison lands
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    Almost a paradise to the inhabitants. The name comes from the fact that all the food and water there is poisonous to outsiders.

    Residents of the Poison lands can consume food and water from out lands, but get no nourishment from out food. At the border is a seem no wider than a knife's blade that glows purple. Water will not flow over this line of it's own accord.

    The sapient inhabitants are talking horse known as the Houyhnhnm; known for their skill in statecraft and magic.

    Spoiler: The Mirror lands
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    Appears to composed entirely of mirrored crystals, the landscape taking a fractal form, like a natural house of mirrors.

    When a crystal is taken out it reverts to being an ordinary, dull rock. The few dull rocks one can find there are valuable for their anti magic properties.

    Some of your reflections are alive. Some will almost exactly mimic you, and a special few you can communicate with in writing.

    Rumors say the reflections know everything the gods know, and are unable to tell a technical untruth; but that they always aim to deceive. Scholars strongly doubt every part of those rumors and have a dozen conflicting theories of their own.

    To truly leave, one must take the same path out that they took in. If not, you enter a world of illusion that looks like home, while a doppelganger returns to your home.

    Spoiler: The Frozen lands
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    On the cold side of temperate in the near part, and become increasingly frigid as one goes further away.

    No people or animals can be seen, but the passing signs of animals are there, as well as the hallmarks of civilization.

    At midnight, an irresistible sleep comes upon visitors and a day's activity of the local people occurs.

    Trade with the locals is possible. Theft and vandalism are especially stupid. The locals aren't especially viscous, but they seem to be able to do anything they like to the helpless visitors at midnight.

    As for the wildlife, having a lit fire at midnight while in the wilderness is a must.

    Spoiler: The Great ocean
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    A vast ocean where one might get lost for decades (like the odyssey). Numerous islands and underwater civilizations. Borders a variety of other continents that cannot be reliably be reached.

    Navigation is more complicated than the players can handle, however smart the players are. Paths aren't reversible and the next destination is only a probability.

    Most sailors are a type of lizardfolk that drink seawater, swim for days, and survive on little food when inactive.
    The thing is the Azurites don't use a single color; they use a single hue. The use light blue, dark blue, black, white, glossy blue, off-white with a bluish tint. They sky's the limit, as long as it's blue.

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    Firbolg in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Map edges

    Funny thing, as a FLOWER who's been chronically obsessed with overthinking what might be past the borders of partial maps, when I began to work on a setting, I realized I'm doing one of those myself. A partial freakin' map. So I went back and designed the whole continent around it. But then I realized that world is probably spherical, and only one major landmass( group, if you want to count the islands) would be awkward.

    I was too lazy to design more actual continents, though, so I went the microcosm way, and only added two (well, three, but we don't talk about Far U) more landmass-equivalents, so that it mirrors the rough big shape of the cosmology ("Lawful Space" – contact zone – "Chaotic Space"); these are the Shelf (an oddly geometrically standardized polar ice cap kinda very hostile to most life) and the Rings of Fire (a volcanically hyperactive zone also kinda very hostile to most life, and conveniently impossible to map with all the islands appearing and disappearing overnight).

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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Map edges

    Quote Originally Posted by Quizatzhaderac View Post
    I'll admit that sometimes a low effort answer the right call. Mountains, desserts, and oceans did separate places beyond political relevancy. I can't blame a hard pressed DM from just saying "Non sunt hic dracones" on blank map spaces and telling the players the meta information that nothing there will matter to them.
    The real issue is that in most fantasy settings, even shockingly low-magic and low-power ones, it can be all a surprisingly low effort enterprise to journey beyond the edge of the map. Something as simple as rideable giant birds. This isn't even fantastical at all, since the largest pterosaurs might well have been capable of carrying a (small) human passenger in flight and seem to have been capable of high-speed long-distance soaring flight for many hours. And something as mild as 'horses with supernaturally high endurance' - a major feature of a low-magic setting like Middle Earth, can allow parties to pull stunts like 1000 miles in ten days (which, for comparison, is the distance from Madrid to Brussels, stopping Paris along the way) becomes almost ordinary.

    And, because such resources are actually likely to be more available to NPCs than PCs - a giant owl breeding program is probably out of reach of most parties, but to a king with an eye on creating a messenger service its a solid investment - this distorts the world heavily, at least at the 'elite' level. While there may be economic limitations applied to high speed travel that prevent mass impacts, the very ability for kings, high priests, and the like to send messages across long distances at high speeds totally alters the political and military landscape.
    Now publishing a webnovel travelogue.

    Resvier: a P6 homebrew setting

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    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Re: Map edges

    I had a civilization building game/setting where a bunch of worlds found their way to some sort of shared demiplane and sent colonists. The center of the map was the place closest to 'normal' but as you went outwards the local planar energy - something that would draw in possibilities from the multiverse - became stronger and stronger. In moderation this represented high value resources, opportunities for new powers or technologies, etc. At the very far ranges it drew in such chaotic and variable possibilities with such frequency that if you didn't have the equivalent of a diving bell or extremely good ability to predict the fluctuations, space would stop existing under you, you'd become unanchored from your own past, etc.

    Beyond even that, there were islands of calmness to be discovered - like destructive interference points between the chaotic waves. And also on one of them, the thing that was actually generating the demiplane.

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    Default Re: Map edges

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    I had a civilization building game/setting where a bunch of worlds found their way to some sort of shared demiplane and sent colonists. The center of the map was the place closest to 'normal' but as you went outwards the local planar energy - something that would draw in possibilities from the multiverse - became stronger and stronger. In moderation this represented high value resources, opportunities for new powers or technologies, etc. At the very far ranges it drew in such chaotic and variable possibilities with such frequency that if you didn't have the equivalent of a diving bell or extremely good ability to predict the fluctuations, space would stop existing under you, you'd become unanchored from your own past, etc.

    Beyond even that, there were islands of calmness to be discovered - like destructive interference points between the chaotic waves. And also on one of them, the thing that was actually generating the demiplane.
    Heh. "You just walked into the Far Realm1" is quite the convenient and efficient deterrent when one doesn't want the edges of the map mucked about with.



    1Well, not literally that, of course, but I feel like that's an easy shorthand for "eldritch extraplanar space you don't want to go near".

    Quote Originally Posted by Mechalich View Post
    The real issue is that in most fantasy settings, even shockingly low-magic and low-power ones, it can be all a surprisingly low effort enterprise to journey beyond the edge of the map. Something as simple as rideable giant birds. This isn't even fantastical at all, since the largest pterosaurs might well have been capable of carrying a (small) human passenger in flight and seem to have been capable of high-speed long-distance soaring flight for many hours. And something as mild as 'horses with supernaturally high endurance' - a major feature of a low-magic setting like Middle Earth, can allow parties to pull stunts like 1000 miles in ten days (which, for comparison, is the distance from Madrid to Brussels, stopping Paris along the way) becomes almost ordinary.

    And, because such resources are actually likely to be more available to NPCs than PCs - a giant owl breeding program is probably out of reach of most parties, but to a king with an eye on creating a messenger service its a solid investment - this distorts the world heavily, at least at the 'elite' level. While there may be economic limitations applied to high speed travel that prevent mass impacts, the very ability for kings, high priests, and the like to send messages across long distances at high speeds totally alters the political and military landscape.
    (My setting above actually has a small state entirely poulated by literal Giant and Anthropomorphic Owls (with sprinklings of similar beings thrown in), resulting in a mid-sized walled city that has no city gates and is full of towers without stairs to approach their hollow bits. But this kind of thing is leaned into harder by the crows. One of the major powers the citizens of which are predominantly Kenku became a major player by the majority population realizing the potential their sizable Giant Raven minority had, and the latter readily agreeing to cooperate. They have a rather large airforce, with the Giant Ravens serving as everything from transport roles through reconnaisance to flying weapon platforms, including what a modern jargon would term as tactical light bombers (with actual explosive bombs).

    Their largest rivals naturally strive to counteract their advantage in this respect, but seeing how large populations of intelligent flyers don't just sprout from the gorund, and they may resent being drawn into breeding programs, whereas non-sapient flying creatures would, by neccessity, perform worse in certain ways, the headstart keeps the crows ahead. Accordingly, the steppe empire Ogres do employ Hippogriffs and some Pegasi, with troops mounted on them, as "interceptors" and scouts; however, they focus more heavily on close range air defense and mitigating the impact of aerial attacks relying on how their key resources, including manpower, is mobile enough to dodge the brunt of aerial attacks without getting crippled. Likewise, although the filthy rich plutocratic naval power that's the last player in their league does experiment with Crio- and Canisphinges (on lease from an ally) and pours big money into researching airships, they are generally content on following a policy of expansion (so that they always have a buffer zone they don't care about that much) and maintaining their ability to just field and equip more units both on land and sea than any opponent, ensuring they can whitstand attrition with casual ease.)
    Last edited by Metastachydium; 2024-06-01 at 02:10 PM.

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    Default Re: Map edges

    "You have reached the end of your world; beyond this point lies Chaos. Only a truly powerful champion of Law can have the force of personality required to shape the raw energies of Chaos into the solid matter of the Material World. Go, petitioner, if you dare, into the Chaos. Attempt to wrest reality from possibility. Forge a new realm to explore and rule. Extend your world against the inevitable encroachment of Chaos."

    Michael Moorecock envisioned reality bounded in all directions by Chaos, where champions entered chaos and created an expansion of reality shaped in the image they desired. A knight might enter and create a feudal kingdom, a wizard might create a wizard's tower surrounded by a magical forest, a rogue might create a major city in which he can rule a thieves' guild, or whatever.

    In the early phases of my campaign we had a total of four 'name level' characters, (AD&D 1st ed.) who tried to expand the world. I got a feudal kingdom based on a new (to my world) religion, a 'dwarf mountain homeland,' and a region perfect for raising horses but not so good for human cities. One of the characters imported my Labyrinth Campaign, but that extended the map down, not outward.

    After that period I did some major building and the maps ran out of areas that were unknown, (at least to the DM.)

    If I recall correctly, the area created was based on a point-buy chart. (Int+Wis+Cha)xLevel

    1 point buys
    100 sq miles of wilderness
    10 sq miles of cultivated land
    1 sq mile of settled land
    100 commoners of character's race
    10 commoners loyal to character
    1 follower character, (if character can attract followers.)

    2 points buy
    100 sq miles of special or magical wilderness terrain
    100 commoners of race other than character's

    I do not recall the entire list, and there were chaotic effects, such as when a player requested one thing and got another. As I recall, the paladin character asked for a temple and got a ruin infested with demonic creatures which became a permanent dungeon he had to contain and control. But I don't recall the lists of saves and such that were generated to determine the final results of the attempt.

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    Default Re: Map edges

    Then there's, of course, the old time-tested strategy of "the world is actually flat and aquare, but if you walk off the west edge, you just walk back ontop the east edge somehow".

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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mechalich View Post
    While there may be economic limitations applied to high speed travel that prevent mass impacts, the very ability for kings, high priests, and the like to send messages across long distances at high speeds totally alters the political and military landscape.
    I think the ability to move elites and messengers around quickly would have impacts, I don't think that would greatly expand what I'll call a political sphere of concern.

    I think the two big questions are "Can an army make the trip?" and "Can bulk commodities make the trip?". In a fantasy setting there might be some kind of low quantity good that has macroeconomic or political importance, but the Roman empire isn't going to fall just because they didn't get their silk from China.
    Quote Originally Posted by Metastachydium View Post
    Then there's, of course, the old time-tested strategy of "the world is actually flat and aquare, but if you walk off the west edge, you just walk back ontop the east edge somehow".
    The Homer Simpson cosmology.Homer suggested to Steven Hawking that the universe was doughnut shaped.

    That video game map shaped is called a torus in the field of toplogy. Take a printout of the old video game world map, fold it in half to the north edge touches the south edge; then curl it to that the east edge touches the west edge and, viola, a donut.
    The thing is the Azurites don't use a single color; they use a single hue. The use light blue, dark blue, black, white, glossy blue, off-white with a bluish tint. They sky's the limit, as long as it's blue.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Quizatzhaderac View Post
    The Homer Simpson cosmology.Homer suggested to Steven Hawking that the universe was doughnut shaped.

    That video game map shaped is called a torus in the field of toplogy. Take a printout of the old video game world map, fold it in half to the north edge touches the south edge; then curl it to that the east edge touches the west edge and, viola, a donut.
    A torus would make too much sense for a lot of these maps. A lot of games I've played are a cylinder instead; if you walk off the east edge you wind up on the west edge, but instead of doing that in both directions the north and south are instead bordered by impassible mountains. That's what the map is like in games like Master of Magic and Warlock: Master of the Arcane

    Personally I wish one of these games would do a tetrahedral map; it can be tiled with triangles and relatively closely approximates a sphere

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_co..._a_tetrahedron
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    Default Re: Map edges

    Quote Originally Posted by Quizatzhaderac View Post
    The Homer Simpson cosmology.[COLOR="#FFFFFF"]Homer suggested to Steven Hawking that the universe was doughnut shaped.
    I mean, that makes sense! …for him. (It also reminds me of The Third Policeman, with the mad scientist guy suggesting Earth is actually sausage-shaped, and we're just very bad at moving along its longitudinal axis.)

    At any rate, I meant more like "a room with four doors; you leave through one, you enter through the one opposite that", except bigger.

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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Map edges

    It is, of course, possible for a world to just be a cylinder, or a torus, assuming it was artificially constructed. There are some size limitations unless you're willing to allow for superstrong materials like in Ringworld, but they're at larger points than you might think. A full-sized nanotube-based Bishop Ring or McKendree Cylinder has 'big continent' interior scale, which is in almost all cases large enough to hold an entire setting.
    Now publishing a webnovel travelogue.

    Resvier: a P6 homebrew setting

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mechalich View Post
    It is, of course, possible for a world to just be a cylinder, or a torus, assuming it was artificially constructed.
    That's 100% true, but I think it really only applies to sci-fi settings.

    We can put the "who" of a world's construction into four buckets:
    1. Nature- it conforms with out understanding of geology, et cetra.
    2. People - It could (at a stretch) by done by sufficiently advanced humans, but you need to be able to answer why/how they did it that way.
    3. Gods- It could be basically anything, but now you need to answer who are the gods/ why did they do it that way.
    4. Just so- You're not really trying to make sense


    With the gods or just-so "possible" stops mattering so much.
    The thing is the Azurites don't use a single color; they use a single hue. The use light blue, dark blue, black, white, glossy blue, off-white with a bluish tint. They sky's the limit, as long as it's blue.

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    Default Re: Map edges

    I like the flat world theory, where the world is a disc. But let's Niven it up a bit and give it Newtonian gravity. The air is a globe, there is a central sea caused by the gravity bulge, and the closer you get to the edge, the more uphill you go, until you are at the very edge of the atmosphere. Spinning the disc flattens things a bit, but not too much spin or things at the edge will be flung away. This is also economical, from a world building perspective, because the bottom side is the topside for a whole other sphere.

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    Flumph

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    Default Re: Map edges

    Things I find useful.

    The planet is actually rather low density but has earth like gravity at it surface because it is far larger. This not only gives me more freedom for underdark type shenanigans is also nicely opens up edges to be annoyingly far away so that there is minimal (occasional examples of races/nations/good from beyond but no regular contact) or impossible. Thus annoyingly large ocean or the like becomes actually a deterrent even to those with a some mending and repairs spells and some gruel making spoons.

    The edges can also tend to be "something unfriendly but internally focused"... land of the orc hordes, ancient empire of necromages with internal politics that go on for days and a closed boarder policy.

    Wild/dead magic zones....which at their extremes can interfere with things like basic life energy functions so things like healing and digestion stop working and eventually just plain harm.

    Weird bank of mist....very thick mist...and when it clears you are somewhere else...maybe someplace random in the known world...maybe someplace new... oh and you may not be able to feel a connect with the gods anymore (but your spells still work) and you are pretty sure the rogue can't leave for some reason.

    The edge of the world is undefined in the space time continuum complete with quantum uncertinity...there is technically a singularity there somewhere but is functionally impossible to find (or it makes a point negation of your matter when you pass through so small you don't notice) but in passing near to it you basically become undefined in space from the point of view of anyone in "normal space" but to you the world behind you just becomes very busy and blurry and the world ahead smeary and spread out....once you pass the singularity the two views flip and you re-approach the map from a random point on the compass.

    every day you keep walking/sailing etc the night gets longer...eventually there is no sun...a few days later the stars fade...the nastier undead and shadow beings become the normal companions in the dark...a few days march later fire/magic light goes half as far and darkvision/sonar/tremorsense range also halves. The undead are now common...A few days later it halves again....and the undead get bigger and can ignore immunity to undead...light halves again...and again...then all divine magic costs higher spell levels (except the Great Old Ones and analogues)...then light and magic halves again...and again...and again...until you are pushing through a sensory deprivation tank swarming with enough undead that the DM can just meta turn the PC's lives out...the primordial darkness from which the world was first made is out there but I wouldn't recommend visiting.
    Last edited by sktarq; 2024-06-10 at 06:21 PM.

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    Default Re: Map edges

    I normally go with a flat earth for homebrew world building. Usually of fixed size, although infinite in the north, south, east, and west directions is also fun.
    Regardless, the true size is always much larger than the size of the campaign map, both so I can drop down an extra continent if I really need to, and to avoid the very problems outlined in this thread.

    Thus, my default answer to what's beyond the edge of the map is the rather mundane 'more land and sea, much like what you see on the map'.

    That being said, here are a few other options I've used in the past.

    The crystal sky
    The world is covered by a shell of transparent crystal upon which the sun, moon and planets roll. At the edges of the world the crystal sky bends down to meet the ground (or more likely the sea) and forms a wall. And beyond the wall is only the void of space.

    Unused Space
    The world may be infinite, but not all of it is used. Travel far enough out into the ocean and land stops showing up. Keep going, and wind and cloud disappear next and finally the stars drift away over the horison.
    This is base state of the world, a sterile ocean below, still air above, the only change being the inexorable motion of the sun and moon.
    I am rel.

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    Default Re: Map edges

    Quote Originally Posted by rel View Post
    The crystal sky
    The world is covered by a shell of transparent crystal upon which the sun, moon and planets roll. At the edges of the world the crystal sky bends down to meet the ground (or more likely the sea) and forms a wall. And beyond the wall is only the void of space.
    For a cosmic barrier, there is no need for there to be a beyond at all.

    The barrier is perfectly flat, as are the stars, Sun, Moon, and planets. An enormous force can flatten an object and push it onto the crystal, at which point it becomes a new star.
    The thing is the Azurites don't use a single color; they use a single hue. The use light blue, dark blue, black, white, glossy blue, off-white with a bluish tint. They sky's the limit, as long as it's blue.

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