Sunday, November 1, 2009

Mediocre Maps of Ara

I should begin by saying that I do not consider myself much of a visual artist nor a particularly good cartographer.  I can draw functional interior dungeon maps and I manage maps of square-ish things like forts and castles pretty well, but my wilderness maps aren’t terrific, at least not from an aesthetic point of view.  I do not draw trees well, so, for example, on a forthcoming map I will eventually post – a new-ish expanded map of the Lands of Ara – there are no forests indicated, even though the eastern two-thirds of Delzar, the northern half of Achelon and The Western Lands, and the northern third of Telengard should all be densely forested.

Furthermore, in the olden days I drew all my maps on square graph paper—I was just never at ease with hexes, even though I realize it is the most common grid to use for outdoor wilderness maps of large scale.  And speaking of scale, it would seem that I omitted any indicator of map scale on some of the maps I post – for example, Map #2, the larger-scale map showing two continents.  I apologize in advance for these shortcomings.

Yet despite this I feel it is important to share these two or three basic maps that reveal the general outlay of the Lands of Ara.  And maybe, if I get lucky and am really really nice to him, my friend (and artist extraordinaire) Carl will help me out by drawing a beautiful new “Lands of Ara” map on real hex paper sometime in the near future!

Due to the scanning and cropping process I used, Map #1 is currently available only as a TIFF file (not a huge one, though) – let me know if you have trouble downloading / accessing it and I will attempt to save and post it in a different format.  The other maps here are downloadable as TIFFs or JPEGs.  Click here to access maps.

Map #1: The Lands of Ara
This map is probably the most accurate overall map of the Lands of Ara I have in my possession.  In truth, it is quite old (circa late 1980s to early 1990s) and therefore contains many inaccuracies; we have changed city names, expanded the map, etc., quite a bit during all our campaigning in Ara in the ‘90s.  But it gives you the correct general idea, and in combination with a newer Ara map I have recently developed (which has its own, if different, inaccuracies) plus various area insert maps, all of which I will post in time, you should be able to put together an fairly accurate composite map of the features of the Lands of Ara.  In fact, as I mentioned, it is this precise thing that I am hoping my friend Carl will accept as a personal challenge and BIG favor to me.

What follows are some notes about the incorrect / inaccurate aspects of Map #1; this information is also available as a downloadable pdf at the same site where you will find the downloadable map TIFF. 


Note, first, that this Lands of Ara map has no grid lines nor scale notations on it.  However, it was orignally drawn on square-grid graph paper, and I assume that the scale is approximately one ¼” square (or hex) = 24 miles.  The map as a whole measures approximately 21 ¾” x 13 ¾” at full (100%) magnification, which means it represents a land area of approximately 2088 miles by 1320 miles.

This map has fairly accurate topographical details in general, and should always take precedence in determining natural features in Ara unless otherwise noted.  This is especially true in the Noffel – Blint – Western Lands – Kaladar regions, which are out of proportion and too scrunched up on some of my new maps (forthcoming).  However, Northern Telengard, near the dreaded Ghardash Wilderness, should be even more densely forested than is indicated here, as should the north end of the Western Lands.  This map’s placement of Kaladar, Noffel, Blint, Minoch, and The Western Lands relative to each other cannot be beat; they are placed perfectly, as are the Frey Mountains. The biggest shortcoming of this map is the outdatedness and/or omission of many of its city and settlement names in the southwestern area of Ara (see some specific notes to this effect below).  Note that the large body of water south of Noffel, labeled here “Sea,” is in fact The Bay of Noffel. 

I prefer Delzar to be more narrow and skinny, and not as large as Telengard; thus I favor their relative proportions on the new map (forthcoming).

in The Western Lands: Vedik and Malak exist in the southern region of the Western Lands, as per this map.  But follow The Western Lands insert map (Map #3 below) for all specifics of the rivers and human-made features in the northern two-thirds of The Western Lands.  Certain Western Lands cities from this large map, like Bozart and Garakthon, should be eliminated (though we could keep Bozart as a small village somewhere up there), and note that Tradefair, the largest and most important city of the Western Lands, does not even show up on this map – it would go a bit east of where Bozart is now. . . see also my comments on the placement of Nurna below.  The features of The Western Lands shown on this large map may or may not always be accurate, especially as concerns those unnamed cities indicated in the southwest region: maybe one of them is Castle Morko, but I cannot vouch for any of them nor their placement on this map—see The Western Lands insert map instead.  

The Great Western Swamp should encroach a bit further into the Western Lands, and the north half of the Western Lands should be much more thickly wooded (similar to northern Achelon).  Nurna, the great elven lake, is a bit misplaced on this map; it should be much further north and a wee bit east, more ABOVE the Western Lands than off in the NW corner of it—see the new map (forthcoming) as a guide.  Also, note that Marsh Town, the town built on docks in the middle of the southwestern region of the Great Western Swamp, lies just off the Western edge of this map, at roughly the same latitude line as Swampsedge.  

in Achelon: the large unnamed city indicated in the middle of Map #1 exists and is called Achelonia.  Achelonia is where the Queen of Achelon resides and rules.  

in Noffel:  This map says Jakama, which is correct, though I may incorrectly refer to this same Noffellian port city as “Jakarta” in some placesHowever, this old map lists no Highgate, which now exists (see new map; on the old map, Highgate lies just across the river from the top left corner of the “B” of “Blint”).  Highgate is where the Noffellian King resides and rules—such a city was implied to exist before, but was never explicitly named or placed until now.

In Blint: Marshton (this map) has been replaced by Blintsport (new map).

Lastly, and this is a note for my future cartographer, it might be good to extend the map of Ara a bit further westward to the Arandish West Coast.  There are four towns on the west coast; see West Coast Cities insert map (forthcoming).

Map #2:
Large-Scale Map of Two Continents including Ara

This map is quite large-scale yet lacks any indication of its exact scale.  But it may come in handy later if I ever get around to discussing some of the stuff on the western continent (like The Duchy of Galen and the Great Empire of the Sarth).  It also gives you a bird’s-eye view of where Ara sits, and may be the only map in this post to show the location of the rodian island of Suhl.  Note that it does not show the four West Coast Cities, which will be detailed in a forthcoming map. 

Map #3: The Western Lands
This being a relatively new map (4 or 5 years old), it actually includes scale!  I do not know if the scale of this map really matches up in a relative way with the features and information on the larger map (Map #1 this post).  But it is absolutely the most accurate map of the northern two-thirds of the Western Lands that exists.

Notes:  Where The Western Lands insert map says “to Redvine” it should more accurately say “to Holtboro and Redvine.”  Also note that The Western Lands insert map really only covers the northern two-thirds or so of the Western Lands as depicted on Map #1.

Click here to access maps.

Yet to come: more southern Ara maps, the “new” Lands of Ara map, and a map of Arandish West Coast Cities!

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