I’m a firm believer in having a fairly detailed model for how things are organized, and how they work. See Randomness and Inspiration for more about this simulation and modeling technique.

After driving across the US (see the Driving Across Country blog) I’ve recognized how much I’m pantsing some of the hidden political powers shaping the conflict in Tales of the Red Ranger.

I’ve (finally) started modeling empires, kingdoms, and earldoms. Here’s an example.

fantasy map
Map of the Western Empire

Yes. It’s hex-based mapping (I’m a fan.)

In case you want details, I prefer “flat-topped” hexes using what are sometimes called “double height” coordinates. The app is still a work in progress, but it generates delightfully interleaved plots of land.

I don’t make an effort to fill the white holes within a block of terrain; when this is turned into a more useful map, those details can be fiddled with.

There’s no terrain expressed. The author has to work that out on their own. Rivers and mountains are required for some borders. Other borders are political stalemates and troubles waiting to happen. The darker cells are the capitals of the kingdoms or earldoms.

Since it’s random, you have to carefully save the ones you like. (Each map has a unique number, so the software can reproduce a map from the number.)

I liked this because of the spot around 9I, 9K and 10J (I circled it) where three kingdoms are able to confront each other directly. This kind of thing is often the result of mountain peaks that prohibit direct confrontation. Also 8R reflects a place where Green can be sliced by Blue or Olive, and a great deal of land taken away from them.

The “todo” list includes a proper coastline generator and some thought to filling in the holes a little more cleanly. There’s a clever algorithm for locating a transitive surround, but I haven’t written it yet. I’d like to add borders, also.

My preferred mapping software is Hexographer, and I really really really want to understand their file format so I can seed Hexographer files directly from this tool.

Since it has to be expanded on for story-telling purposes, it serves nicely as inspiration.