Sunday, May 30, 2010
Filling The Hex
I like the above map very much. It represents some ten million inhabitants, and over three hundred communities. Because I never do anything the easy way, I've steadfastly computed from my own population statistics (remember, having very little to do with the real world) versus the comparative topography to determine where the intensely cultivated places ought to be. Not having any idea myself how this would look when I started (the numbers were generated, the rest was simply following rules suggested by a system), I'm pleased that it has given me an interesting scattering of densely populated centers and adjacent forested zones, the combination of which makes for adventure possibilities (along with added features should I ever turn these maps into some immense wargame!) and to suggest ready obstacles to travel.
The specific vegetations are appropriate for those parts of real Germany, applying the formula created by A.W. Kuchler, who created a classification based on whether plants were woody or herbaceous - and if woody, whether they were broadleaf or needleleaf and evergreen, or deciduous. By and large the system has fallen out of favor with biologists since the 1980s (I couldn't find a decent representation of it on line) but it works excellently for my D&D world (and that would be one more F.U. for those people insisting that what I'm making here is a model).
Just as a side note, and without going long into the subject, I have much the same trouble as everyone else as regards determining what is inside a hex. If you consider the map, and each hex having a diameter of 20 miles - the reality is that you can put an awful lot into just one of those hexes. One need only mark out a distance of 20 miles on a real map, and then go out and walk it, to get a sense of just how huge one of these hexes is. When you consider that what you would see during that twenty mile walk is only a ribbon of the proposed width of a hex ... we are all tackling a gargantuan task just to define the contents of ONE hex, much less the multiples that many of us work with - such as the example above.
As such, however in depth my efforts may seem, they are pathetically shallow when it comes to proposing the events of one day's walk through a world. I try not to worry about it. 99% of what I do in a running is flat-out right off the top of my head (or from the seat of my pants), and not derived from maps and charts. However, it is through designing and describing my world in different ways, and forcing myself to obtain new data to do BOTH activities, I am loaded up with new ideas daily which I then have a chance to implement later, when it seems appropriate. This keeps my mind active - and more importantly, pushes me to think beyond my usual prejudices.
For those DMs who claim proudly that all this work isn't necessary - because they make everything up anyway - I must suppose that the well they draw their water from must be pretty dry, or stale to say the least. Same 2D characters, same 2D adventures, same 2D arguments about 'what this game is about.'
But to those of you out there carrying water in from new sources, keep at it people. Water that you sweat for is always sweeter.