Saturday, July 28, 2012

If there's a place you gotta go...

I'm the one you need to know.

Of the list of annoying intelligent artifacts from children's shows, The Map from Dora ranks high.

UPDATE: Read the bit at the bottom before you do anything like this.

At any rate, I'm going to have to do some mapping if I want to get a sandbox game going.

At the current point, I'm planning on running the excellent Adventurer Conqueror King system, from Autarch. PDF's $10, go get it - they've taken B/X and fleshed out the domain rulership/economic systems to something you don't have to think about too much. There's also a fleshed out domain warfare system coming, plus there's a complete class and spell creation system in beta.
 In this post, I'm using their freely downloadable mapping PDF with a continental map I made some time ago.
Here's what I'm starting with, skipping some of the details of how I got here:
The continent has been rotated quite a bit, after drawing the climate I had to revisit locations of some of my ecological decisions..

What you see there is a half-attempted icon map, which was about the third or fourth style of map I puttered around with following the many excellent tutorials at the Cartographer's Guild. It's an amalgam of two maps, one the icon map, the other a previous map I'd doodled some plant life assumptions on. I've overlaid a hex grid generated with the help of mkhexgrid, and drawn in the very basics of climate following Bat In The Attic's concise PDF here. The upper red line is my equator, the southern red line is the southern 30 degree latitude, the Tropic of Capricorn on Earth. Dark blue is ocean currents, light blue is air. I have no doubt I'm making incorrect assumptions about what the climate will actually be doing, but that's OK. It's magic.

NOTE: I messed up at this point - I'd merged too many layers, and lost a good clean copy of my coastline. Don't do that!
Scale wise, I've defined these hexes as 24 mile hexes, as is ACK's default, since I'm using their PDFs.

Consequences Break!
The Googles tell me that each latitude line is about 69 miles apart - so between 0 and 30 degrees latitude is about 2,070 miles, or 86 24-mile hexes. I dislike the number 86 today, so I rounded that down to 80 (drawing my equator and tropic 80 hexes from each other), which means the distance from my equator to my southern tropic is 1,920 miles, making my latitude line distance 64 miles. If I take this to it's conclusion, 64*180 is 11,520, or 92% of the 12,400 value the Internet tells me is the Earth's distance from pole to pole. All else being equal, we're about 8% smaller than the Earth, which will never matter, but it's fun to know.

End Break!

I'm working in Gimp. What I do next is thus:

  • Open the ACKs map PDF in Gimp, and import page 4, the long-range hex map.
  • Add a transparency layer, and delete all the white, leaving me just the black hex lines and other page details. Copy that, and -
  • Paste it into a new layer on my map document. I resize the layer until those hexes more-or-less match my original hexes. Always resize with locked ratios! 
  • I label that layer "Map 1" - this Gimp file is going to be our master reference from now on, since as we expand, we'll continue to paste multiple copies of it into our master map to generate new pages of the world.
  • I hide my original hex layer. I'll not be needing it except for reference of original intent.
  • I center the layer about where I'm starting the PCs.
  • I select the area of the layer, crop the image to the layer. I immediately save it as a different filename. Now I've got all my information (layers) the same relative size as the PDF page. I resize the whole image to 1099x849 (the original size of the PDF I imported)
  • I repaste my original, unresized PDF layer into this image. It should perfectly overlay the resized ACKS hex grid.
Here's what I end up with:

Bit of a mess - I have two coastlines since I lost my original layer, then found the version of the coastline I preferred.

Viola! Here's Page 4 of the ACKS pdf with my map (in coastline, vegetation, and topographical layers) ready to work with. From here, I'd pick my artistic style and start drawing the area for real.

UPDATE: Whoops. After I started painting in my hexes, I realized my mistake - the hexes from the PDF were aliased, so I got a lot of little white/light grey spaces around the hex borders that looked like junk. I went back a few steps:

  • In preparing the ACKS PDF page, I imported at 400dpi, giving me a 4399xsomething image. I added a transparency layer, selected all the white by color, deleted it, inverted the selection, painted it all black. I then converted the mode to indexed, with only 1 color (black).
  • I wanted some extra resolution - I resized the ACKS PDF and my overlaid map to 2199xsomething, rather than the original 1099.

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