Thursday, July 3, 2008

Speaking of Old D&D Campaigns

Here's a scan of a small section of a much larger map I did for my old campaign world of Emaindor.
I drew -- and colored! -- this by hand when I was 13 or 14, so that puts its origin in 1984 or thereabouts. I'd been playing in a version of the same setting for several years prior to that (as well as in a Greyhawk-based campaign). I can't quite recall why I used graph paper instead of hex paper, but I suspect it's because I didn't have hex paper larger enough to cover the vast amount of terrain I wanted to draw.

You will note I was very fond both of calligraphy and of imaginary languages. I created several of them (Cynda, Emânic, Otrenska, and Rathwynnic, derived from Dutch, Welsh, Swedish, and Old English, respectively) with simple grammars and extensive vocabulary lists. I found that even the silliest names sounded much cooler if they were translated into a language no one natively understood.

The setting itself was a weird mishmash of things, but was primarily a medieval Europe knock-off, albeit one that mix and matched cultures and time periods. I had a Frenchified Roman/Byzantine Empire analog, for example, and an Arthurian/Celtic bunch standing in for the Germans. Now that I think on it, there were a lot of Arthurian elements to the setting, because, let's face it, King Arthur is heroic and tragic in a way that appeals to teenage boys (and old men, ironically enough). Despite being an AD&D world, it was even more strongly human-dominated than you'd expect. There were no halflings and few gnomes. Dwarves were reclusive but present and elves were reclusive to the point of xenophobia. Most of my adventures were political or investigative in nature, a tendency of mine that hasn't changed much in 20+ years.

A few years ago, I had a professional cartographer do a rendition of these maps and it was really cool to see that. I'll dig around on my computer to see if I can find them again. I won't say I prefer my amateur versions, because I'm not sure I do, but I still have a lot of pride in them. I spent untold hours drawing them and carefully placing the towns and cities and sites and naming them all. It was a labor of love and pretty well illustrates why I still love this hobby after so many years.

7 comments:

  1. Try http://tinyurl.com/5wzbze

    Thanks to archive.org, where you can find almost anything that used to be on the internet.

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  2. The professional version is darn nice! I can see the appeal of ones own original hand drawn map, of course, I just wish my efforts measured up to the professional effort...

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  3. That map is just awesome! Big thumbs up, James!

    I love seeing this knid of stuff. I never did any overland/campaign maps that could even begin to compare to that one.

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  4. You invented your own languages . . . this is interesting. How involved was this? How does one go about creating it? I honestly have never done this, and wouldn't know where to begin. Please, elaborate!

    BTW that Map is totally badass, especially considering your age.

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  5. You invented your own languages . . . this is interesting. How involved was this? How does one go about creating it? I honestly have never done this, and wouldn't know where to begin. Please, elaborate!

    I'm a language geek and always have been. What I basically did was take grammars of foreign languages -- I'd get guides from the library -- and simplify them so I could easily use them for naming. I concentrated on things like possessives, locatives, and other constructions of that type. Then I'd make a big list of words I need, used a foreign language dictionary, and then screwed with the words there so they weren't identical. I was a big fan of using Grimm's Law to shift the consonants around.

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  6. James, I saw this link over on the Tome of Treasures@ http://www.tomeoftreasures.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=4140

    The link is http://www.plagmada.orgwhich is an interesting archive of home campaign maps; perhaps you should contribute? :D

    Allan.

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