Thursday, September 17, 2015

Gone to Ground


In early 2012, I began updating all my maps to a later version of Microsoft's Publisher program - and as of yesterday, I completely finished that upgrade.  This link on the wiki includes all the sheet maps of my world that I have either finished or are upon the edges of what I've finished, from the Andaman Islands in the East to the western shore of Spain.  72 maps altogether.

Here is a list of links for the latest updated maps, that were not included when I wrote about this a bit more than a month ago:

G 06 - Nubia
G 07 - Arabia
G 08 - Empty Quarter
G 09 - Oman
G 10 - Gujarat
G 11 - Maharashtra
G 12 - Orissa
G 13 - Bengal
G 14 - Irrawaddy

H 08 - Ethiopia
H 09 - Horn of Africa
H 10 - Socotra
H 11 - Arabian Sea
H 12 - Ladshadweep
H 13 - Madurai
H 14 - East Ceylon
H 15 - Bay of Bengal
H 16 - Andaman Sea

Two of the maps - the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal - are merely hexes containing water and no land at all. They are included as placeholders.

I know that I haven't been writing much on the blog lately. Call it my going to ground, just for the time being. On days when I've had energy, I've been working on the book. On days when I have less energy, I've been making these maps. Basically, the revamp of the maps is little more than retracing the coasts, rivers, roads and so on with new, upgraded lines and colors. But that is all done now and I'm glad. Going forward, the maps I'll be posting on the wiki and on this blog will all be new, created since this time.

For no reason at all, I've been doing preliminary work on Burma.  I really should finish Morocco, which I've left half done, and the Maldives, that I've left half done, but I'm not in the mood for little tiny islands and a desert.  I'll get back to those things.

Part of the reason I do these maps, some of my long-time readers will remember, comes from wanting to look very closely at parts of the world that are obscure and to which very few people pay attention.  People think about creating a world based on France or Britain, the Middle East or the Balkans . . . but when does anyone make plans for a world based on Burma?  Or Ethiopia, which I may take up next?  Who thinks of the Canary Islands or Eastern Siberia?

I'd like to think there are Japanese and Indian players of D&D (who I get page views occasionally) who do think about those places.  I would love to see some of the work they do, what they've designed for lairs and caves, what sort of monsters they create.  But, of course, the small table of people playing this weekend in Chiang Mai in Thailand don't speak English and they don't read my blog.  I bet, however, that they play some sort of role-playing game.

That's just speculation.  Good 'ol JB in Paraguay never seems to mention (at least I've never read him mention it) the group of Spanish speaking players occupying themselves with some sort of weird Colonial RPG based on the reclamation of South America by Incans . . . Asuncion has a population of over 500,000 and of course it's impossible for him to have met everyone.  I'd like to think this game isn't a first-world phenomenon.  I mean, who knows how many people in Kenya are playing D&D right now?

Well, sorry I'm not writing much.  I'll be getting my wind back from having to do physical labour day-in and day-out when once upon a time I use to sit on my comfortable ass in a comfortable office writing my comfortable blog posts between five minute spans of actually doing work for twice the pay I'm earning right now.  Then I'll post more often.

I hope all my readers are doing well.


Tim said...

I can certainly appreciate the desire to shine a light on the non-Western European parts of the world. There's so much world to see after all! I ended up deciding on making my previously amorphous setting more Central Asian for that reason: I needed to think about creating worlds based on more than just the same tired tropes.

Not to mention how much good it would do for the D&D community if players from all kinds of real-world backgrounds and fantasy settings could voice their thoughts on some of the aspects of the game. I mean, reading some of the first edition AD&D treatment of foreign culture (in Deities & Demigods, for instance) can be a bit like reading The Golden Bough -- having diverse players talking about their games, just like in film, art or literature, can expand the community and add some diversity and creativity to the mix.

The Babel Fish can't come sooner!

JB said...

As far as I know, there is NO table-top role-playing going on in Paraguay. It just isn't here.

On-line "game locators" show there's a gaming community in Uruguay, and the RPGPundit have talked about conventions and such over in those parts, but Uruguay is the only 1st World country in South America, not to mention the most liberal country in the Americas.

But Paraguay? No. This is a place for exploiting people, making money, loose sex, and abandoned children. Red meat, candy, and soccer. It's a land sorely lacking in imagination, and (more damnably) lacking in the consideration of others...two things kind of necessary for role-playing.

One of my own pet projects is a fantasy game with a South American setting that echoes the conquest and colonization of the region. I even spent a bunch of time reading over your old map posts trying to figure out how to do an awesome map on the same scale as your own laminated artworks. It's a daunting fucking task. However, even if it (someday, somehow) gets done, it will be a product aimed at a different audience from the folks here in Paraguay.

Jomo Rising said...

There was a hobby store in Penang, Malaysia that had the core books for some version of D&D (c.2005). They cost RM 150 each, so I imagine only the richer folks bought them (150 will easily buy a weeks worth of food for a person). This part of Malaysia is hardly 3rd world but it's not 1st world either. Did anybody play? Well, don't know. Pirated video games were pretty big there.

Alexis Smolensk said...


I'm tempted to build the Paraguay map for you (as it does fit into present sheaf of maps to be done) but I'd have to start with a third of Brazil just to get the Parana valley sorted out.

JB said...

@ Alexis:

You are too kind; I'm flattered you'd even consider it.
: )

Alexis Smolensk said...


Considering it? It's been bouncing around in my head since. Looking at the map, however, to keep everything organized, I think I'd have to start with northern Brazil and slowly work my way south. Sigh. I think it would be really fun to work on Brazil but it is HUGE and would take months. 'Course, I'm not running my game just now . . .

JB said...

@ Alexis:

Time is a precious commodity, but your time is, of course, your own. The jungles of Brazil would, of course, be a fantastic setting for adventures of the "lost world / hidden city" variety. I just wonder about the practicality for your campaign (how do you get the players across the Atlantic?). Then again, GOLD.

I just don't get the same charge out of cartography; probably because my own maps are so poor that I can't (for myself) justify the effort it takes for so small a return.

Dave Johnson said...

Kenya doesn't have D&D, but I found your blog by searching on Google for it, so there is a bit! There is some occasionally played in the expatriate community, as Nairobi is a big center for Embassies and foreign aid missions. Some Kenyans who went to school overseas might have picked it up, but with no local sellers, there really isn't a way to learn about it unless you are looking for it on the internet. And if you have never heard of it, you won't look for it...

A slightly larger community playing board games exists and you can get some of those games in local stores The Euro games have started selling well and are pushing Monopoly and Snakes and Ladders to the back of the shelves.

Anyway, since it is 11 AM on a work/school day, I would say the answer to your question "How many people are playing D&D in Kenya right now?" is zero. However, there is one person taking a coffee break from work in Nairobi writing about it.

Silberman said...


I'm not at all familiar with the MS Publisher format; do the native files for your maps have distinct layers or groups for terrain, cities, roads, etc. so that, for instance, all of the place names could be quickly hidden at once? Or is each name and line a distinct object that needs to be selected and manipulated by itself? I'm working on a Magna Graecia setting, and I've already got the .png files of your Italy, Greece and Anatolia maps on my hard drive, but having just the terrain features, stripped of 17th-century-specific elements would be an amazing leg up.

Alexis Smolensk said...


Each name and line is a distinct object. I'd be happy to send you the publisher files for a small donation ($5 each), if you want to contact me by email.

Silberman said...

Very reasonable. Done. I emailed you at the address.