Terrain Map Symbols

“A man sets out to draw the world. As the years go by, he peoples a space with images of provinces, kingdoms, mountains, bays, ships, islands, fishes, rooms, instruments, stars, horses, and individuals. A short time before he dies, he discovers that the patient labyrinth of lines traces the lineaments of his own face.”

— Jorge Luis Borges, The Aleph and Other Stories

TERRAIN SYMBOLS

pdf version – click here

I draw maps for working out the details of my fiction, for games, and for the sheer pleasure of creating imaginary places. A while back I posted a legend for my dungeon maps, and since then I’ve been working on this simplified set of terrain symbols for area and wilderness maps.

Maps excite the imagination. That’s why so many fantasy novels contains maps of their fictional worlds. The map itself is a link, translating the reality of a world into the imagination of the reader.

Above you will find my own key to my simplified symbol set. Below are few of my own recent maps, using this symbol set and a few variations. I’ve been working on a grid based layout, but these symbols will work equally well on a hex based map. Many more of my maps are posted on Google+.

three kingdomspost apocalypticstrange desert

GIANT Available Now!

giant in print

GIANT is in print and available now! Order your copy for $7.99 + s/h through LULU.

*Use the code APRIL30 and get 30% off print books until April 12th.

From the back:

Future wars are waged with huge humanoid machines known as giants. Human pilots are encased in neuro-conductive capsules behind layers of armor plating, their senses and nerve impulses merged with the artificial systems of the giants they control.

Giant is a wargame played with paper, pencils, and six-sided dice. Inside is a complete game, including rules, a visual reference, a record sheet, a master battle map, and eight ready to play maps with various terrain. It’s perfect for travel or when you want an action packed game with minimal preparation.

Each player controls up to three giants, chosen from fifteen different types. Arm them with missiles, guns, and lasers. Then send them into the battle!

  • Record sheets & maps available for free download on the games page.

Here are some records from past games:

giant game 1giant game 2giant game 3

GIANT coming soon …

Giant BackGiant Front

About a year ago I got into my head to design a war game featuring battles between giant robots. I wanted to create a game simple enough to be quickly learned and played with nothing more than pencils, paper, and dice. It had to have focus, with just the right amount of complexity to provide strategic and tactical challenges, and the promise of endless possibilities. Finally, it had to generate interesting, vivid, action packed battles!

During the past year in development, writing, and play testing, Giant has stayed very true to that initial vision. I recently finished work on the cover design, and the final game, with its 20 page illustrated rule book, including eight pages of ready to play battle maps, is almost ready for an independent release. I’m looking forward to getting this out and into the hands of tabletop game players.

Geography for Worldbuilding and Fantasy Maps

crusoeWhether you’re creating a setting for a novel, story, or game, it’s a good idea to think about some basic geography, so things make sense … for the most part anyway. I consulted a geologist about some basic guidelines for the geography of imaginary worlds. Of course, there are always anomalies, and fantastical explanations for unusual features or even entire worlds, but if you want your world to be vaguely earth-like, these simple guidelines may help in your worldbuilding:

  1. Large mountains almost always occur in ranges.
  2. Rivers flow from mountains and hills down into bigger rivers or open bodies of water.
  3. Forest can occur almost anywhere there is sufficient water for trees.
  4. Grasslands and hills can occur almost anywhere.
  5. Swamps, marshes, and lakes occur in flat areas with a lot of water.
  6. Canyons are carved out by rivers or streams.
  7. Major deserts are a regional function of the trade winds, but small deserts often form inland, on the far side of mountain ranges.
  8. Springs and oases can occur almost anywhere.
  9. Volcanoes occur in chains or regions of vulcanism. This usually happens closer to coastlines or islands.
  10. Glaciers, like water, flow downhill, and glaciated areas tend to have broad U-shaped valleys.
  11. Towns and cities need a source of fresh water. Larger cities often occur on trade routes.
  12. If you’re looking at huge timescales and you want some billion year old ruins, the centers of continents tend to be the oldest geologic areas.

Weird Roleplaying Cover Art

WEIRD cover

The Weird Roleplaying cover concept features art by Brian Hendrickson. I wanted the cover to have a classic feel to it. The art had to speak to the theme of weird fiction, since that’s the inspiration for the game, but be ambiguous enough to relate to a wide variety of settings and time periods.

Brian’s web comic “Call of Cthulu: The Musical” is published in Weird Tales and featured on his own site, Qualestation.

Weird is still in the development and writing stages, but it’s a playable game at this point, and ongoing play tests are already happening in-house. More information about the game can be found on the Games page.

Roleplaying Games in Development

roleplayingAnnouncing the development of not one, but two roleplaying games: Grimstone and Weird. I have been quietly developing and writing these games for a while now and look forward to having early playtest versions done soon.

Grimstone Fantasy Roleplaying is a traditional fantasy game based in the 3.5 OGL. It will be largely compatible with early editions of the Original Fantasy Roleplaying Game and with the numerous games of the Old School Renaissance. However, Grimstone features a unique class system with specialized feat lines, a fully developed skill system, and a unified system of magic. I am writing the entire game from scratch, including all spells and monsters to acheive a cohesive streamlined system that represents my ideal in fantasy gaming.

Weird Roleplaying is an original universal rules-light system inspired by weird fiction throughout the ages. It is being designed for fast character creation, streamlined gameplay, and easy adaptiblity to any genre, setting, or source materials. I’m very excited about the possiblities for this game. Weird is like a skeleton key for roleplaying games. It is designed to minimize GM prep time and to make improvisation and adapting adventures from other systems easy and intuitive.

Grimstone and Weird will ultimately be released through my company, Ealdanleoht Books and Games along with a number of original adventures for each system. Stay tuned for further developments.