Is it possible to have #EpicFantasy without a map? Isn’t that the first thing we look at in the print copy of a book?

There are places and places and the whole point of a hero’s journey is to pass through places that are representative of specific issues and problems. There’s water to cross, dark places to pass through.

A map can be helpful. If your terrain is simple, it’s not totally necessary. Michael Moorcock didn’t seem to provide a map for the Elric books (correct me if I’m wrong, here.)

The kingdom size was kind of easy. A few days of research provided some information I found useful. It’s difficult to generalize because there are so many imperial-scale outliers with sizes too vast for useful comparison: US, China, for example, shouldn’t be used for comparison. Indeed, the whole Western Hemisphere was reshaped recently by colonial powers, so the original maps of the kingdom-like territories are — if not totally lost — at least sketchy.

Given a kingdom’s size, the rest of this is cartography. Pick a resolution and start drawing. Copy features from other maps to make sure the mountains and rivers make sense.

The story has six cardinal directions (North, Summer East, Winter East, South, Winter West, and Summary West). Hex mapping is fun. How big is each hex?

Math Warning

I started with 6-league hexes. About 32km across. The 18mi distance is a good day’s walk on nice trails and roads. For the Appalachian Trail, a common suggestion is to plan on 8mi days before you get into shape; averages published in suggest 10-16mi in the rugged terrain.

Hex maps nest neatly. Based on the nesting, a 32km hex turns out to be slightly less than ideal. It’s not a Serious Problem.

But. I’m not delighted with the way the map scales down. The current design leads to detailed maps of keeps and dungeons and villages with hexes 3.2m diameter — about 10’. There’s nothing wrong with this scale. Folks who played the original rules D&D will recognize this is the more-or-less standard size of dungeon maps. The original rules suggested getting 6-to-the-inch graph paper to make sure 60’ was 1”.

I’m a fan of the Hero Game System. They suggest 2m hexes. A vinyl game mat with 1” hexes plays well at a scale of 1:80.

Other war games have other hex scales. I’m sure there’s a 10’-per-hex game somewhere.

This is a small change. Well... small-ish. It scales up to hexes which are 4 leagues or about 21 km in diameter.

The images I often refer to use hexes which are about 0.4cm; scale about 1:8,000,000. The new target scale is 1:5,250,000. When it gets printed, it will be physically much smaller, with a scale close to 1:10,500,000.

Some of this analysis is based on the “diameter" of a hexagon: a deeply suspicious concept. Flat-side to flat-side? Point-to-point? I use an “effective” radius based on the area — midway between flat and point. Worse, of course, is the “diameter” of a mega-hex composed of a center hexagon and the six surrounding hexes. A jump in the simple hex-of-hexes is about 5.3×. However, there’s a nice 10-hex jump that preserves the orientation and evens out the edges. Sort-of.

And So?

I’ve got to redraw my map, expanding it by ⅓ to create 21km hexes which are (nearly) 4 leagues in size. This comes from the current map which has 6 leagues per hex. Doing this lets me expand on some details.

While it feels a little like side-work, I think it’s helpful. I need to spend some time reflecting on overall back-story problems: kingdom, temples, Outlanders, etc., and how their actions moved forward between the end of Book II and the start of Book III.

Once I have the nesting of hexes and mega-hexes worked out, I can (in principle) show all the villages along the road in The Forge. I’m not sure this is terribly helpful, though. A zoomed-in map of the area around Middle Ford and the Westmarch War Camp, could be helpful.

I think I need to draw a map of the Red Howe from The Sword and The Crystal. Not sure if this is really needed, but it might be helpful because it’s where Book III starts.