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The Planeswalker Journal

Map #1 - West Continent

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As some people know, I really hate drawing maps. It stems from me feeling like I have great images in my head, but my hands utterly fail at translating that to paper/computer screen. So my apologies for the long time coming. In the interests of me preferring to use a whole 8 x 11 sheet of paper, each landmass area will have it's own post and map. ...Then somebody with more awesome than me can put them all together and make one large image with everything.

Naturally, we want to do each of these in phases. The first phase should be pretty rough--just major landmasses. So based on that, here is what we have:

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We have the major western landmass, and some islands branching off of the two main peninsulas on the north and east sides. I really wanted to emphasize visually that in the beginning everything was mostly one big landmass, so I felt that we needed some large island in the south as well. That little thing on the west coast... I can't explain. Call it me being really weird; don't worry, we'll make it work somehow.

Okay, the next thing we need to do is set up elevation lines. Naturally these lines are where mountains are most likely to be, and they will help us with our next step--rivers and inland bodies of water. Now a very smart way of looking at elevation lines was summed up by Rich Burlew:

First, try to think of the planet not as land and water, but as simply land, like a big bumpy patch of ground. If you then pour water onto that bumpy ground, parts of it will immediately be submerged, while other parts will stay dry; the water will flow down to seek the lowest regions. Those regions will be the seas and oceans, and the paths the water takes to get from the highland to the lowland are the rivers. If you think about it carefully, you'll realize that there are places where the water flows in and covers much of the region but not the highest points, creating islands.

Mountains usually form when two plates (the giant masses that form the planet's crust) crash against one another. They thus tend to form in lines, representing the borders between two plates. This is important, because mountains in vaguely linear shapes are a lot more believable when you look at them; think of the Appalachians, or the Andes for examples. Another important point is that these linear forms will tend to be parallel to coastlines. After all, a coastline is nothing more than the point where the elevation becomes high enough to break the water's surface.

Mountains can't be parallel to ALL coastlines, though, so what happens when they meet the ocean? Usually peninsulas, and thereafter, islands. The mountains become lower and lower until water starts to flood between each peak. By this point, they are hardly recognizable as "mountains" per se, but they are still elevated land, at least compared to the ocean floor.
So we set up some general elevation lines, and I even set up one line inland that will suggest that the northwest part of the continent is at an overall higher elevation than the rest of the main landmass. Exciting possibilities.

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Now that we have our elevation lines, we can start doing probably the most important part--rivers and lakes. Naturally most cities and villages will be near to sources of fresh water, so these will help establish just how populated our landmass is. But in the interest of brevity (and the fact that I suck at drawing), I'm only going to draw in the major river and lakes. We will just assume that there are other small creeks and tributaries, local ponds and lakes that are simply too small to show up on a map of this scale. So, we draw in some of our rivers, keeping in mind that 9 out of 10 times they are going to end at a coastline or another body of water, and they should always go from high elevation to low.

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Now you will notice that I did a couple things here. I used the large rivers to re-emphasize that the northwestern part of the landmass is significantly higher in elevation than the rest of the continent. I also don't have any rivers but a large lake on the southern island--I liked the concept of a caldera and that just seemed an appropriate place to have one. We also have plenty of large rivers in the middle-ish of the landmass, presumably fed by lots of smaller streams. I actually might have even gone overboard here, so we might get rid of some of those later.

But there is <West>! Hopefully I'll be able to sit down and get the other maps out much faster.

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Updated 05-03-2010 at 02:38 AM by Aerthos

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