Friday, June 14, 2013

South Mediterranean Shore

After updating the map on this post, I'm adding also two other maps.  I've been sketching out areas along the south Mediterranean, mostly trying to work out what states control those areas.  Truth is, historically none at all ... but as this is a D&D world, such political vacuums offer opportunities to insert non-human races.  In this case, tauregs, which is an African tribe but which I'm adjusting to be a sort of desert-troglodyte (no offense to any real Tauregs conceivably reading this blog), strong, large, needing less water than a human and having a developed culture that reaches back to the time before the Sahara desert was completely desert-like.

The Tauregs comprise the Garamantes Empire, of which a part is shown on the linked map, Jafra.  Another non-human culture is the Kanem Empire, or jackalwere, which should prove interesting if any party ever penetrates this far into the desert.  The northern province of the Kanem Empire is Murzuq.

A third humanoid race occupies the oases of Kufra ... I am considering a rework of the Fiend Folio's qullan, perceiving them to be a contemplative, highly intelligent, semi-magical people.  Again, these people would be wildly obscure with regards to any usual party movements, as it would require a far reaching expedition away from traditional trade routes (desert crossing trade routes being something else).

Here are the maps:

Green areas and unpatterned brown areas represent
arable land. Yellow areas along the coast are thin grasslands.
Ferrous red areas have thin scrubland, but no oases; some such
areas might have deep unknown water sources. Gray areas
are pure desert.

This is turned 60 degrees with respect to the map above,
in keeping with my overall map-design

Here's all three recent desert maps fitted together:

Jufra and Murzuq show on the left; Kufra in the lower centre (I didn't
choose those names, by the way; those are actual names for those
regions). The coastline itself is entirely under the control of the
Ottoman Empire, including Egypt showing on the right.

Altogether its an extravagantly empty area to which I've tried to give depth and meaning.  The reader will not find much of either in an atlas or from maps online, for which this is almost entirely a big, empty white nothing.

Political maps coming at some point in the future, and infrastructure maps too.  Working on the infrastructure of Italy now and then, when I'm in the mood for it (suspended largely due to work I'm trying to do on monsters).



Quincy Jones said...

I'm wondering, Alexis, if your players' characters have access to these maps. Do you restrict knowledge to reflect historical mapping inaccuracies? I'm guessing not, considering how they're posted for all to see...but it's something I've been toying with, and I wouldn't mind hearing your take on.

By the by, good luck on that monster stuff. Economics is one thing, weather is another, and infrastructure yet another, but monsters...ugh. I gave up on anything complex a while ago. Stuck to filtering them by biome and population proximity. Nothing fancy, but it lets players weigh risks when they choose travel routes.

Can't wait to see what you cook up.

Alexis Smolensk said...

I've tried in the past to restrict map access. It sounds like a good idea, but in reality it only slows the game down - the gain does not equal the loss of trust or momentum. So I just let the players see the maps so we can move as rapidly as desired onto the next thing. Take note that I have openly done so in my online campaign, holding back the map only in specific, drama-inducing moments.

Jonathon said...

Would I be wrong in assuming that there were no organized states here historically because of the sheer hostility of the terrain?

And if I'm not wrong, have you expanded the arable and/or worked land area at all while placing these countries here, or is the actual terrain consistent and it's just the tougher nature of the locals that makes getting by on what's there reasonable?

Alexis Smolensk said...


I'm operating a bit on both. The Sahara in the 17th century was less desertified than in the present day; I would argue that with the existence of druids, it would be much more sparse grassland than we're used to imagining it. The tougher nature of the locals would then contribute to that, while their existence would push out the human inhabitants.

Plus, you know, it's fun to have humanoids.