Adventures in map-making

Despite having a professional cartographer as my main character and working on this series for four years, I didn't have much in the way of maps. A few years ago I made one for my main country, but the rest of the continent remained a mystery. It was time to unravel that!



Concordia over in the bottom left has the most detail as my main country, but I had some idea of what to do with Galanvoth and Montglace since those are the other two locations that have so far been relevant to the series. (Montglace is where the twins grew up, Galanvoth is where Firedrake was born and where Blythe lived for a while.) I haven’t named any of the other countries yet. Stars are capital cities, circles are large cities, Xs are potential interesting locations, trees are forests, and upside down Vs are mountains. The squarish shape in the center is something I decided belongs on this continent: a neutral trade city/area. I’ll eventually add more dotted lines (large roads/highways) leading to this spot.

I got the idea for how to make this from a post that had been going around on Tumblr about using lots of multi-sided dice to make an outline. This was perfect because I have a ton of gaming dice, so I gathered up a bunch of these and dropped them onto my sketchbook. Since I wanted something a little larger, I used a file folder next to it for the other half of the map. I’m not writing about the east side of the continent yet, so I figure that’s probably less important for now. I was amused that it dropped two as an island exactly in the right location for Concordia!

Here's what it looked like when I first dropped the dice:

I started tracing around the dice and this is what it looked like once it got to a shape I liked:


I decided that rivers make most of the borders because the ability to trade and have friendly interactions with neighboring countries was important to the history of this world. Clusters of green dice became some forested areas and two pointy dice next to each other became part of a mountain range. My highest rolls are capital cities. The 1s I rolled are either going to be ruins/abandoned cities or something interesting. (I rolled a 1 directly between 18s in the northern part of Galanvoth, so there’s gotta be a story about that location!) The orange gem die became a trade road I knew had to cross through Galanvoth so Concordians could reach the center of the continent. That big D6 in the center spawned the idea of a neutral trade hub.

I did get a big surprise from this, and that was that Montglace is an island. I was always under the impression that it was part of a mountain range at the very top of the continent, but when I saw those two dice hanging out so far north, I realized how perfect this was. I want to add volcanoes as part of Montglace’s mountains for plot reasons (I need underground heat), so making Montglace an island works perfectly for this! I did realize today that someday soon I’m going to have to devote time to really digging into Montglace’s history and geography because I know so little about it and this is the main location of the last book in this quartet. I also wasn’t expecting Galanvoth to be so large, but that works because it’s a very old country. It's possible that because I rolled so many 17s in this location, and because this government is passed down through a family, that the regent rules through the capital city. Then the rolled-17 cities can be where the other members of the family have their royal seats or rule through there or something like that. I foresee lots of worldbuilding in my future.

CONVERSATION

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