What projection is your fantasy map?

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clintmemo
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Re: What projection is your fantasy map?

Postby clintmemo » Wed Jan 21, 2015 1:59 pm

Honestly, it's never been an issue.

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Re: What projection is your fantasy map?

Postby BottledViolence » Wed Jan 21, 2015 2:55 pm

goatunit wrote:I also use Mercator projection, but I keep in mind that they are bad maps. It hasn't come up, but I expect to keep in mind the failures of such maps when players are exploring closer to the poles.


What practical issues do you see coming up?

Unless your RPG relies heavily on land nav simulation, and has fairly detailed rules for travel that you adhere to, plus an absence of local maps, what problems do you predict?

We all know the limitations of that map projection, but they aren't practical. People don't grab a world map to plan a rout through the mountains, to find a village, or the plan an attack.

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Re: What projection is your fantasy map?

Postby goatunit » Wed Jan 21, 2015 3:52 pm

I run a sandbox hexcrawl D&D campaign, with navigation checks when applicable. I expect to shave off the bonuses from using a map closer to the poles, unless the map is specifically crafted for that purpose. I would also misinform the party about the size of landmasses and stuff. Get them good and lost.

:twisted:

Of course, in a hexcrawl, getting lost is half the battle. And they would be among the first to explore as far as my setting-equivalent to Greenland or whatever. Certainly whatever's on the map before they take a stab at it is going to be questionable.

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Re: What projection is your fantasy map?

Postby Vinnie_Vidivici » Wed Jan 21, 2015 5:01 pm

BottledViolence wrote:What practical issues do you see coming up?


Absolutely none. But, part of my enjoyment of the game, as a GM, is geeking out about my maps, and knowing where everything in my world fits. YMMV.

I use the True Shape projection. You can see that it approximates the surface of a sphere by mapping it onto a dodecahedron—i.e., a d20. An old version of Traveller had blank maps of this kind with the poles at opposite vertices. Here's an example:

Image

What you wind up with are world maps that look like this:

Image

Traveller also provides map templates for an individual hex:

Image

(That's not an 'official' Traveller blank, but you get the idea.)
What this system lets you do is draw out your continents on the world map, and get an absolute scale for your geography. Notice that the equator is 35 hexes long. Earth's equator is roughly 25,000 miles long. Therefore each hex is 714 miles (plus a bit).

Now, when you want to focus on one large region, you use an individual hex map--which you already know is 714 miles between faces. The ten smaller hexes, therefore, are 71 miles. Next, you can use another copy of the individual hex map to map a city and it's environs across a 71-mile distance, and the smaller hexes further delineate 7.1-mile distances. And so on.

Now, I'm not saying I've ever done an entire planet this way, but it does let you really pin down geographic relationships--if that's important to your game. Like I said earlier, it's probably not important to nearly any game, but it gives me jollies, so I go to the extra effort.

For what it's worth, while I was Googling the images, I found a map of what it would look like if you painted hexes on the surface of a sphere and then made a Mercator projection of the hexified surface. It was interesting:

Image
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Re: What projection is your fantasy map?

Postby zircher » Wed Jan 21, 2015 7:32 pm

Heh, Vinnie_Vidivici knocked it out of the park for me. :thumbup:

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Re: What projection is your fantasy map?

Postby Leoff » Thu Jan 22, 2015 7:30 am

So this is tangentially the same topic --
I've always been irritated that when you measure distance on a map, you don't have a way of measuring the distance that is added by going up and down hills. A hill is part of a triangle, the longest line of it. So if you're going up and down hills instead of on the level prairies, you're going farther.

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Re: What projection is your fantasy map?

Postby Knaight » Thu Jan 22, 2015 11:57 pm

The projection matters a lot more when the map covers more of the sphere. There's a good chance that any map I make is an area around an inland sea, or a small continent, or even a tiny archipelago. So it pretty much works out to a subtly flattened curve, which doesn't match any of the projections. When you have less than half a sphere, the concern about representing areas directly over each other is basically gone, but there's still odd edge behavior. Cut further, and the odd edge behavior gradually goes away.
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Re: What projection is your fantasy map?

Postby Fridrik » Fri Jan 23, 2015 12:36 am

BottledViolence wrote:What effect would it have on the game?


In a RPG, not much, to tell the truth.

But given there are a few reasons to create worlds other then RPGs I thought I'd talk about the map. A map made without forethought is one of those things bother me when I bump into it.

I'm not saying everyone should be an expert cartographer, but I think people should be aware of all aspects of the craft they are engaging in. I would say that making maps without knowing about the existence of map projection is like writing a story without knowing about story beats. You might get it right by accident, but if you don't then people will notice.

For example the map I started this thread with was done as photo realistic as the possible by the creator. He/She even went as far making textures for the map out of satellite images (Or got them somewhere), but had no idea that what projection he/she was making it in and therefore was doing one of the following, without knowing.

- He/She was making a Mercator maps without realising how much it altered the shape of the northern and southern parts. Therefore not knowing the real size and shape of his/her own creation.

- He/she was making a real size/shape map without realising that the area covered can't physically fit on a globe and the world can't be on a round planet, or the whole of the planet. So the author does not know the shape of his/her world.

To me both of these are fundamental problems for a world creator.

Now having said all of that what is to be done.

Vinnie_Vidivici soulution is exellent. I prefere this projection myself, but it's just a slightly different way to show the same thing.Image

Here is a whole list of projections on wikipedia

Another solution is to draw maps as tech level appropriate.

Here for example is a map of Iceland from 1595

Image
More old maps of Iceland

If we compare that to recent satellite image of Iceland

Image

One can see that medieval maps tend to exaggerate peninsulas and fjords, because that's what the sailors can see from the sea. Inland areas tend to get compacted and hard to reach areas even more so. So if I was to make a map for my fantasy knight novel I would try to make my map look a bit like that Icelandic map.

Actually I would probably try to have it look like this world map from the 1300s, just clean it up and make it more readable. But one can see how the maker exaggerates the ares he/she is familiar with (Italy and surrounding areas) and just sort of wings the rest.

Image

The third solution and by far the most easy to achieve is to make sure your map doesn't represent an area bigger then the lower 48 stats of the US. Once you are down to an area of that size or smaller, then projection errors stop mattering. And if your game or novel cowers an area bigger then that then a series of maps might be in order.
Last edited by Fridrik on Fri Jan 23, 2015 7:57 am, edited 11 times in total.

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goatunit
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Re: What projection is your fantasy map?

Postby goatunit » Fri Jan 23, 2015 1:16 am

Anyone know of any good mapmaking software that lets you paint directly on a globe? I know that dry-erase globes are a thing, which is cool but probably only useful for planet-hopping Star Trek-style games.

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Re: What projection is your fantasy map?

Postby Fridrik » Fri Jan 23, 2015 3:33 am

goatunit wrote:Anyone know of any good mapmaking software that lets you paint directly on a globe? I know that dry-erase globes are a thing, which is cool but probably only useful for planet-hopping Star Trek-style games.

If you want to try real world mapping tools the GIS software is then way to go. The best open source (Read FREE) type you can get is QGIS [Download here]. And the best open source world data is probably Natural Earth [Data here]. Here is a [bigger list of data sources].

The learning curve is a bit steep, but there are lot's of instructional videos online. Specially for Quantum GIS (QGIS).


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