Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Have an Island

Part of me doesn't want a map because it feels each detail cuts off a multitude of possibilities (thus the abstract city of Nidus).  But I'm at the point where it isn't really fair for players, now that there are several locations they've encountered, to not let them know how places are situated in relationship to each other.  I could have drawn my own map but the old simulationist in me starts whispering: "But what of the geology? The scale?" and I start researching island geology and I end up spending hours and still have no map.  So hell, I'll just use a real map and give myself freedom to fudge any details on it that don't work toward my ends.

In tracking pictures that were sources of inspiration for Nidus, one place I ended up was this old map of Santorin Isalnd that struck me as just the right style.  I was ignorant at the time that it was the quite interesting ancient island of Thera. Here is the public domain map from 1848:

Here is a version where I've removed most of the place names and some details to allow for customization:

I always imagined Nidus as a cliffside city facing the open ocean, but here the water inside the ancient caldera is the much safer harbor, so I'll probably say Nidus is located where Thera actually is, although it's bigger and climbs higher.

One thing cool about using a real location is that you can find actual satellite pictures. So, if the party finds a magic carpet or tames a flying beasty I can show them this:

Of course, I'd probably want to edit out that airstrip first.  :)


  1. Nice!

    My last two campaign settings have used regions on our planet as a basis (only rotated or mirror-imaged). The geography is believable and the amount of physical detail you can get by using Google Maps alone is incredible. Add the CIA Factbook, Wikipedia and the like into the mix, and you have a wealth of data to use/draw from/alter/ignore as you see fit.

  2. I've vacationed there! Need some snaps?

  3. Using real maps (mangled or not) has long tradition from beginning of hobby. It's definitely my recommendation. I can get topo maps of my campaign area, sat images, ground level photos, climate / weather history etc. It's are real time saver and verisimilitude booster.

  4. Cool, JF, what was it like? Did you get to visit Akrotiri?

    I wonder if some DM in Santorini is running a campaign through the doomful wastes of the California Central Valley, haha.

  5. Akrotiri had been made off-limits due to a tourist fatality some time before. Fortunately, I did get to see the blue monkey paintings in Santorini's own museum. The rest of the Akrotiri collection was back in Athens and I did track them down!

  6. I've vactioned there as well. Those pictures you see of white-washed buildings climbing each other and a cliff face with beautiful blue domes of the churches? Those are often Santorini.

    We stayed with good friends there back in the day.

    The port is on the cliff-side facing the caldera. On the back side is a stretch of fine black sand beach ( I hope it's still there I thought I heard years back a storm did a number on it). Just down the road from a taverna.
    The "main" beach is the shingle kind (my favorite if smallish stones) on the back side more to the south.