Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Mapping Beyond the Flanaess: All Together Now!

Well here we are.

The final corrected versions of the maps are now all gathered into a .rar file (link to the right in the "Free Resources" section). It's pretty big-- took me four minutes to upload on a cable connection, but I think it makes more sense than keeping them all out there individually. These final versions of the maps have a few more tweaks than just correcting the colors of the oceans; a few other things here and there jumped out at me while I was putting this beast together, as a final "thank you" for all the support I've gotten over the last nine weeks or so:

That's in the .rar file, too. The seams between the maps aren't 100% perfect, owing to the cropping on the edges of the Hexographer files I did when transferring them to .png format. But hopefully you can get some idea of the scope of the thing; I also included scans of the original Darlene maps in the far upper-right corner, to give a sense of scale and to show how the Flanaess that we all know and love fits into the larger construct of Oerik.

Over the course of this project, a lot of possibilities came to mind as I was reconciling the various sources, some of which were contradictory (or even self-contradictory). Sure, we know that a chute in the bottom of the original Castle Greyhawk took players to China (Suhfang, above), whence they had to make their way back overland. But what I love are the implications that the various sources bring when put all together.

For example, the Empire of Lynn is apparently sitting out the mad scramble for the panoply of the former war god Stratis off in the northwestern corner of Oerik. Why? Surely a powerful city-state such as that wouldn't let such an opportunity go by without some reason. Does it have something to do with the religious situation in Lynn? Are the powers-that-be so squeamish about anything that smacks of polytheism that they choose not to have one of their own strive for apotheosis?

One also has to wonder how Suhfang, one of the largest empires on the planet, would react to the establishment of a gnoll-minotaur-demon realm on their northwestern border. I envision that Naresh has pretty much run out of petty warlords to take over, and that explains (in part, anyway), their turn back westward over the mountains. Perhaps they calculate that Ravilla would be a softer target than Suhfang; maybe they even had their snouts bloodied once or twice to convince them.

The placement of Zindia and Woguo (aka Nippon) actually makes a lot of sense when viewed in context. It gives a rationale for the existence of martial-arts-wielding monks in the Scarlet Brotherhood (within journeying distance of Woguo). I also envision a southern exodus of Suel refugees into Zindia, after the Rain of Colorless Fire, leading to their becoming established as the fair-skinned master caste (much like the Brahmins of historical India).

On a technical note, my original maps were made using Hexographer Pro, and I can't say enough good things about that program from Inkwell Ideas. It's well worth the modest price, very flexible, and intuitive to use. From there I transferred them to GIMP, where I cropped the edges (and also where I put everything together for the continent-wide map you see above). Perhaps someday soon I will go through the exact process for some of the tricks I used in Hexographer; sometimes the coastlines and islands could be tricky, and I think that half the job is finding the right fonts to use.

Anyway, it's been a load of fun, and quite interesting for me as a scholar of Greyhawk lore, to go through this exercise. I hope my fellow Greyhawk fans find the results of my labor useful. Nothing will ever compare to the hand-drawn maps by the incomparable Darlene, of course. Those gorgeous maps still adorn my office wall (the originals, which I had laminated, still looking great after 32 years) and still inspire me to venture to the Flanaess in my mind's eye whenever I cast my gaze upon them. Thank you, Darlene, for such inspiration, and thanks of course to Gary Gygax for creating the original World of Greyhawk. You are missed, Gary.

14 comments:

Yggs said...

Fantastic job!
Thanks for letting us come along for the ride.

Simon Forster said...

That's damn impressive. Having them next to the original map really highlights the amount of work you've put into this. It's great. Well done, Sir, well done.

James Smith said...

Congrats on finishing. And kudos on a terrific job!

muleabides said...

This is great stuff! I got a copy of the original Greyhawk Gazetteer back when it first came out, so for me it has some strong associations with my earliest experiences with the game. Thanks for putting these maps together!

mortellan said...

And on the seventh day he rested. Good job JB. It looks fantastically eyepopping all in one.

Eric said...

I have never been much of a greyhawk fan, but since my intoduction to the OSR and your blog, my heart has changed, Thanks!

jdh417 said...

JB, you've taken a all-time classic and truly enhanced it. Epic work. Thank you.

druvas said...

Wow! I think encapsulates my thoughts sufficiently. :-)

jaerdaph said...

Congratulations, Joe! I've been enjoying following this project from the beginning. The maps look great!

Carlos Araya said...

Your work is awesome, but the link of download is down

Can you fix it? please?
Thank you

Joseph Bloch said...

Unfortunately, Mediafire is playing games with all my files. Until I find an alternative comparable file hosting service, or until Mediafire decides to unlock my files, they are unavailable.

Carlos I. Araya said...

Oh, ok, I hope you find another file hosting very soon

You work is very amazing!

Joseph Bloch said...

I should point out that the link to the combined map set is working (now using Google docs).

Havard: said...

Great work sir! Thank you very much! :)