At my last count this morning, I have received 14 positives - looking good, and I thoroughly appreciate all the support thus far. Now come on and get out those last six.
As a bit of inspiration, I've been working on this project about ten days now - I've finished the biggest, below, as well as the seas around Arabia. Almost have the seas around India finished now, then its the Sea from France to the Baltic to the Barents Sea (a big one, but not quite as big as the one below). Here are ship routes for the Mediterranean and Black Seas:
Typically, blogger doesn't manage the image very well. Thankfully, I've put the map up on the wiki, where it can be seen in strong detail.
This map wasn't meant to be especially pretty, and I'm noticing now I've left a few notes on it. Ah well. Primarily it was meant to be serviceable.
In principle, the map is intended to show the shortest routes between port/market cities of various sizes. Take note that the size is listed next to the city - thus Palermo, on the top of Sicily, is rated at 6, Corfu is rated at 2, Marseille at 5 and so on. Most of the cities are rated at 1.
I began with Genoa, rated at 18 (found at the left top of the map). This was determined by the number of references I found for Genoa being a commercial/trade/market/port - which turned out to be many. I have reasoned that Genoa is able to import goods directly from a distance up to 180 hexes, or 3,600 miles. A port with a rating of 1 can only import goods a distance of 10 hexes, or 200 miles; thus, small ports are dependent upon other small ports to obtain goods from a great distance. Each time that goods pass through a trade city, a cost is added (which I would cover in the trade system course, if I get those other six positives) - thus, direct shipping decreases cost.
The next part, however, is complicated. The reader will notice, very near Genoa, to the west, is the port of Savona (rated 7). IF it happens that an outbound route from Genoa through Savona is the same distance (always counted in hexes, without fractions) as it would be without going through Savona, then Genoa declines the direct trade to any ports in that direction and they fall to Savona. This is worked out because Genoa's route through Savona is the same distance as Genoa's route would be without Savona. Therefore, if we look at Oneglia (further west from Savona, the 'n' obscured by the large red 1), Genoa is 3 hexes away. Genoa is also 2 hexes from Savona and Savona is 1 hex from Oneglia, so Genoa does not import directly from Oneglia - or, at least, the price of goods from Oneglia is considered to be increased in price due to tariffs owing to Savona. Savona, in turn, does not import from San Remo, west of Oneglia, because Oneglia controls that trade and so on, down the coast.
Now, if it happens that the next city down the coast is limited in it's imports (Oneglia is rated as 1), then the origin city skips the intervening city and imports from as far away as it is able. Savona, for example, goes through Oneglia's hex to import from Algiers, far from the south. But Oneglia hasn't the economy to import from Algiers (max. 10 hexes), so Savona imports from Algiers directly. Genoa then imports goods from Algiers through Savona.
This is infinitely more complicated than most anyone in the world would do it, I know - and it wasn't the way I started. I began by assuming that anywhere could import from anywhere. The result, however, meant that every port had to be compared to every other port for the prices table, and this was simply getting out of control (too much to manage). As well, this new method vastly cuts down on the possible trade routes - and this leaves empty hexes. While making the Mediterranean map, I considered what I might do with those hexes.
Suppose we consider all the hexes with lines in them to be patrolled by naval ships. However, hexes empty of trade routes are not. That would mean that pirates would keep out of the trade routes, but they would deliberately haunt empty hexes next to the trade routes, waiting for a ship to fall off course. In turn, any hex that was two hexes away from a trade route would logically be empty again, since it was too unlikely to find an off course ship there.
Now look at the map again. See those empty three hexes directly west of Corsica? Prior to the making of this map, those hexes weren't very important. Looking at it now, however, there is an incredible amount of trade going back and forth past those three hexes: Marseille, Savona, Livorno, La Spezia and Genoa are all big, big ports with incoming and outgoing traffic going right by those hexes - and the shelter of west Corsica to hide in, assuming the patrols between Ajaccio and the Italian ports can be avoided.
Or consider Malta. Without my design, Malta turned out to be not on any shortest route between anywhere. The sea all around it is empty, unpatrolled, but on the edge of the routes going past Sicily. How well does this fit in with the legends of the Maltese Knights preying on shipping?
Sometimes, we set out to achieve one goal and we stumble across something completely different. For example, consider now that there is a strong reason to be a really good navigator - since the routes where the patrols run change direction abuptly in mid-sea in order to match up with the next port city. If you're running a ship and you simply plow ahead, you're going to run right out of the lane. You may still be the same distance from your destination, but now you're vulnerable to attack, where otherwise attack would have been very rare. You've probably increased your chance of being attacked by pirates 16 or 20 times, just because you're a poor navigator.