The New Mythosa Map and Sourcebook
I may not have been posting on the blog but I haven’t been idle. I’ve just posted a revised map and version 1 of the new "Mythosa Cyclopedia". I’d like to say I’ve tweaked things slightly, but that would be a little inaccurate. But in my defense, that wasn’t my original intention! Below is a long rambling about how this new version came to be.
Though I’ve changed Mythosa quite a bit over the years (that’s actually part of the world lore now; the cycle of destruction and rebirth is a central part of a universal "monomyth"), the last incarnation was intended to be the last one. I was happy with the world, but my map looked too amateurish. So I started to look online for someone to hire to make a professional-looking map of Mythosa.
In the process I found an application called "Wonderdraft". I’d never heard of it before, but once I bought it and started using it, I was amazed. This was the mapping program I’d wanted for years, it just didn’t exist until now.
I imported my existing map as a template and started to redraw it with Wonderdraft tools. Unfortunately, once I was done, I realized that my old map kind of sucked from a geographical standpoint. The overall shape of the continents didn’t seem realistic or organic (yes, I’m aware it’s a fantasy world). Fortunately, Wonderdraft includes a wizard that can generate random, realistic land masses. I figured I’d just keep hitting the "generate" button until I got something reasonably close to my map, and then go from there.
Unfortunately, after well over a hundred iterations, I couldn’t get anything that resembled what I’d originally created. So I did the obvious (?) thing and narrowed down the results I had until I picked out a favorite, and that became the basis for the new Mythosa map.
At that point I also realized that my original mountains weren’t quite following the "rules" of geography. I didn’t want to waste time on plate tectonics, so I just tinkered around trying to eyeball how to do my mountains on the new map. That just gave me a big case of (for what of a better phrase) "cartographer's block", so I grudgingly went and learned a bit about plate tectonics. This type of thing occurred a few more times ("I don’t have time to learn about prevailing winds to determine where my forests should go...sigh, okay, let me read up on prevailing winds...").
Eventually I got my rivers in place, my wastelands drawn, and most importantly, my ruins and settlements located. I can say that pretty much everything of note from the old map made it to the new one - Ilmara, Ulthia (now capital of the cooler-sounding "Obsidian Empire"), the Varghani Desert, Elthanamir, Lionsgate, Zeldora, Malcythia, etc. Very few city-states, ruins, or kingdoms didn’t make the transition. And I added a lot of new stuff. The Eldritch Desolation, the Godspire, Thracia, Aethos, etc. The map was created at a high resolution - 4444 pixels wide, hopefully good for printing - so there was room for more features.
So, that’s the long story behind the new map. Hopefully this one will be the last. It’s possible, given how long the previous one lasted!
Resources that really helped:
- A Magical Society: Guide to Mapping - This tends to be more in-depth than what I have a use for, but even just using some of the more basic information here is very helpful for building a realistic map for your world.
- Wonderdraft - Can’t say enough good things about this program. For Windows, Mac, or Linux. It’s $30, but I think it’s well worth the price. Check out the Wonderdraft subreddit to see what people are creating with this.
- GM Binder - Favored by many in the DM’s Guild, this is a great online tool to easily put together a PDF if you want to emulate the 5E look-and-feel (though I've run into some issues with it recently so I may transition over to a local application).