|Icosahedral Map of Earth (Progonos)|
Naturally, I'd come across Icosahedral Map templates here and there over the years, but they always seemed fiddly--the difficulty of understanding what you're looking at exceeds the value of accuracy, which is easy enough to account for in a standard game with some hand-waving and a couple installments of the ol', "the voyage takes two-to-three weeks." It wasn't until I encountered Justin Alexander's hexcrawl guide (linked in resources below) and, from there, Ben Robbins' West Marches write up, that I had the scales fall from my eyes. It was the notion of zooming in that did it for me--there was no need to operate on the global scale, except to lay down some continental features. After that point, you can build close up flat maps of your regions for play, just checking against the global scale occasionally to reorient yourself to True North.
I'm not the strongest student of math, but I set out to learn what I could about the geometry of hexagons. I hit a few roadblocks along the way to understanding, so if you math-inclined folks notice an error at any point, please speak up. I set a planetary circumference of 18,000 miles (right around halfway between Earth's 25,000 and Mars' 13,000). I settled on a 6-mile hex scale, with 30-mile hex regional scale, and 150-mile hex continental/global scale. If I'm not mistaken (not a given!), that's 3,600,000 6-mile hexes! Design principle #1 is well in hand! Of course, I won't be drilling down to the 6-mile hex scale except to fill in campaign areas, so there's no need to feel intimidated by large numbers here.
I picked up a copy of the Worldographer beta (aka Hexographer 2), had it generate an icosahedral map for me, and then... hmm. You know that feeling when a random generator is a little too random? No matter! I've got my handy-dandy 2E World Builder's Guidebook, and wouldn't I rather do this myself? And so I did. Every couple sentences sent me down rabbit holes of researching geology, volcanism, water cycles, prevailing wind and current patterns, meteorology, and plate tectonics. Two weeks later, I had a map of a world I felt was within the margin of error of being real.
|I dub thee... CoolWorld001.png|
|It's not Europe. It's not.|
|It's not Europe and the Steppe. I'm not seeing it.|
So, what do you think? What methods do you use to build your worlds? What kind of map projection do you favor? Got any resources you can't do without that I should add to my tool box?
Hexographer - amazing hex mapping program
Hex Based Campaign Design guide from the Welsh Piper blog
Hexcrawl Series from The Alexandrian blog
How to Make a Fantasy Sandbox guide from the Bat in the Attic blog
Medieval Demographics Made Easy by S John Ross
Medieval Demographics Done Right - a tempering companion to the "Made Easy" above
The World Builder's Guidebook - possibly the best money I ever spent on an official 2nd Edition product