My own journey of inspiration from maps began with The Hobbit. I loved the maps included in the novel: a treasure map in the dwarven style and a regional map of “Wilderland” where the story took place. The treasure map might serves as a good example of a possible in-game prop, but the Wilderland map fired my imagination with its various tags. Even after all these years – and having read it to myself and aloud to my son innumerable times – that map still stirs my creativity. What are those lands like after the events in The Hobbit? What lives in the Mountains of Mirkwood? What’s the best route to take a mule-train of pipe weed from the Shire to Erebor? How do the woodmen figure into the region with Beorn and the goblins? What hazards lurk along the Old Forest Road? Getting The Atlas of Middle-earth as a kid helped fuel my enthusiasm for Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and Silmarillion as well as my own gaming endeavors. Even today a map in a fantasy novel helps me relate characters and cultures to places and visualize where events occur. I’m reading Fletcher Pratt’s The Well of the Unicorn and constantly refer back to the small, single-page map of the realm where the story takes place; it helps me immerse myself in the fantasy world, much like roleplaying game maps.
|Map by Dyson Logos|
Maps serve as the departure point for exploration in roleplaying games: the gamemaster devising adversaries, encounters, and adventure hooks based on map locations; the players asking questions about what characters might know about various features and then planning how they might interact with what they find there. They help channel the creative energies we pour into our gaming exploits, providing a visual focal point and the foundation of our understanding of an imaginary fantasy world.
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