Seeking advice/tips re: world mapping with FT3/Wilbur

I'm working on a worldbuilding project, for which I want to make a global map.

This will be for a fantasy setting (intended for use with D&D), and I have a few considerations that I want to include/incorporate:

·        I really want the main settled area to be a Mediterranean-like environment, with a body of water central to many lands.

·        The species that live in this world have a range of native

habitats, including Arctic, Mountain, Forest, Desert, Swamp, Jungle, and


·        The settled lands will be the scene for a large empire that is

generally sub-divided into 5 large ethnicities, but ideally would have spots

where large, cosmopolitan cities would develop, assuming at crossroads, etc.

·        While not necessarily world-spanning, I expect the empire to be

quite large (central authority is not so much of an issue here, as the empire

is largely in name only). It also rests on the ashes of an older empire.

·        Magic exists in this world, however I want to generally avoid the

kind of arrangement that could only happen with the use of magic. I'd like a

relatively natural look.

·        I want the settled area to be somewhat insular, and was

considering a Pangea-like supercontinent. The main thought here is I want there

to be little reason to travel the oceans, keeping the action focused inward

instead. A few small continents/island chains would be fine, but there are big

nasties in the deep ocean, so any voyage would be risky.

·        The lands should be expansive enough to give room for nations,

without being super-massive like some other fantasy settings (looking at you

Faerun). (Note: I love Faerun, just not what I'm going for here.)

I know that range is a little difficult to compress into anything smaller than a whole world, and I'm okay with there being plenty of distance between things.

What I'm seeking is advice on how to achieve these things on a map made in FT3/Wilbur. I have been learning on the programs, including Sue's One Day Worldbuilder (thank you Sue!). I'm at the point now where I'd really like to work to achieve a workable map for this purpose, and would like any advice or tips on how best to massage things so as to get as many of those considerations above into place.


  • LoopysueLoopysue 🖼️ 15 images Mapmaker ProFantasy
    edited September 8

    You're welcome (you mentioned The One Day Worldbuilder there) 😀

    I think with a project like this you need to take it one stage at a time rather than trying to think of everything all at the same time. Just note the major geographical features you will need at roughly what latitudes, then draw a simple scribble map of the land shapes, either by hand or on PC it doesn't matter (though if you do it in Paint or GIMP you can import it to FT3 as an image overlay and use it as a pattern to sculpt on).

    The thing about really massive projects is that they seem to be totally daunting if you don't break them down into more manageable chunks. I do understand what you are facing. I've already made well over 100 new symbols for part 2 of an overland style, and there are nearly as many to do yet. I could easily sit here in a state of despair and get nothing done at all, but instead I just blinker myself to the overall picture and say to myself "Today, I will get those 3 swamp trees done," and I do them.

    Train yourself to think in little chunks. No one can fit an entire world into their head at the same time.

  • JoeyD473JoeyD473 🖼️ 2 images Traveler Betatester

    Definately head Sue's advise.

    For using FT3 there is a tutorial by walronate which shows you much of the basics such as raising and lowering land, filling basins and creating rivers. I'd give you a link to download it but I'm too lazy to search for it and don't want to uplaod my copy without permission (it is free though)

    For the islands you might just consider lowering the land till you get islands you want

  • Thanks Sue!

    Indeed, I’m suffering a little “analysis paralysis”

    I will try to focus on small pieces at a time. I was somewhat hoping to form the majority of the globe and then see where things fit, although again, I want certain things to work “right.”

    So would you say that sculpting a world from scratch would be a better idea than letting FT3 generate one and modifying it?

  • Joey, thanks. I have gone through that tutorial and am fairly comfortable with the tools at this point. Now I’m seeking advice on how to use them to achieve the results I’m looking for.

  • LoopysueLoopysue 🖼️ 15 images Mapmaker ProFantasy

    I would recommend sculpting a world from scratch if you have enough time. It's much less of a One Day Worldbuilder that way, but you have much more control over where the land and mountains are. The example world Helena is a hand sculpted world done that way. The other two examples started with a synthetic world, and if you look at the initial file you can see that it strongly influenced my sculpting.

    However, if you find a synthetic world that matches your needs pretty well there is no reason to start from scratch when you can use that one. A word of warning here, though, which I should probably have put in the tutorial - continental shelves make things awkward, so if you use a synthetic world chose one that has been generated without continental shelves.

    General advice: the process is a whole lot easier if you try to restrict yourself to using only the prescale offset brushes as described in The One Day Worldbuilder. Using other brushes tends to do rather a lot more damage to the underlying fractal.

  • As a follow up, I thought I would throw in here that after trying my hand at sculpting a world from scratch, I'm going to go with letting FT3 make me an interesting world first, and massaging that into the world I want.

    I just can't figure out where to put things and how to make them look natural.

    Thanks to you both for your suggestions, as always.

  • Thanks for the update, Daisho. I always find it interesting to hear what happens over time :)

  • WIP, still working on shaping some, no fills or erosion yet. All critiques welcome.

  • Looks like your sculpting from flat after all. Good work so far :)

  • Thanks Sue! That is just FT3's magic, with a lot of editing on my part. Mostly got rid of land where I didn't want it, and sculpted the central "Mediterranean" area quite a bit. I'm going for two main landmasses that have been moving apart over geological time.

    The island continent out in the ocean is a special location that is supposed to be difficult to get to and mysterious, for plot reasons. I decided to have an island chain connecting it so that it wasn't just "out there" for no reason. Not sure I like how it's come out so far...

    Also, not real sure about the westward spur on the northermost continent. I may try shaving it off and see what it looks like.

  • Are you going to have anything in that massive ocean to the west?

  • I'm debating that. I want the "action" to be located in a relatively contained area, and the seas are filled with big nasties that would make it difficult to travel across. I don't like how empty it looks though, so I'm dithering.

    Once I get the map more complete I plan on trying to move the viewpoint some so that the main continent is centered. I'm avoiding that at the moment because every time I've tried in the past, I've ended up with this massive ugly straight line from top to bottom where the former edge of the screen used to be.

  • Yes. Try not to move the map at all if you can help it.

    Maybe have another whole continent that nobody knows about because it's beyond the scope of current ships?

  • Some of my FT3 worlds I created for my Traveller web site: large continent, and an island chain going off into the world ocean.

    Some explorers might think there is more land at the end of the island chain, or in this instance, the empty ocean.

    They could go around the world, and wind up on the other site of the only continent. The cultures are enough different, the explorers/adventurers think they have found a new land.

  • I'm definitely going to have to put something out there. If there's nothing there, then there's no good reason not to have the main continent centered.

    Obviously, maps created from this in CC3+ will be focused on the continent rather than showing the vast empty ocean, by and large. Still, it bugs me.

  • How about a sinking island out there ?

  • LoopysueLoopysue 🖼️ 15 images Mapmaker ProFantasy
    edited September 14

    Whatever you decide to put there, it needs to be a reasonable size, or you will still end up with the question of why you haven't got the main continent in the middle. At a rough guess it would have to more or less fill about 60 degrees of longitude (the space between 3 vertical grid lines).

    If a land mass that size would be inconvenient to your story it could be some undiscovered but mythical land a bit like Atlantis, which has been included in some old maps even though it was never discovered.

    I wouldn't put it too close to the other edge of the map, or you might end up with the inhabitants of your main continents discovering it a bit sooner than you would like. The Polynesians discovered most of the tiny islands of the Atlantic long before we ever came out of our European Dark Ages. This map will give you some idea of how far people managed to navigate in relatively tiny boats.

    In fact, its quite amazing that they never discovered America. Or did they...,for%20more%20than%2030%20years.

    Maybe, though, you could make some kind of Bermuda Triangle type of narrow ocean near the western edge of the map, beyond which most people are completely terrified of venturing.

  • Sue I think you meant Pacific, not Atlantic Ocean.

  • Yes, probably :)

    It's one of the weird quirks I have. If names of things end with similar sounds I tend to get them mixed up just as easily as when they begin the same way. For example Miranda and Mirabel, or Atlantic and Pacific. I think it might be a peculiar form of audio-dyslexia (a name I invented just now to try and label this phenomena to make it easier to understand). It's a bit like spoonerism, but more severe.

  • I am the spoonerism expert


  • Could be... but there are pumice islands that look solid, but its just a thin layer of floating rocks.

    Or from ancient sailor tales, it looks like an island, but when people land on it, and drive tent stakes into it, the giant whale it actually is, dives to get away from the attack.

    Or an item I saw on 'What on Earth ?' tv show on Science channel. It looks like solid ground, but the ground is so saturated with water, that the ground cover separates from the dirt, and it floats on the water. Typically a few inches, but it could be much much deeper.

  • That last description fits a quaking bog. But you would need solid land all around it to contain it and keep the water fresh for plants to grow like that.

  • Yes. But it could be a surprise for those characters that go charging across what looks like normal land. My home players might fall for it, but maybe not. The store players I encountered in the 1980s, would likely have just got out their dice and rolled up new characters. Blooop.

  • WyvernWyvern Surveyor

    You might use the concept of the Sargasso Sea, and create a "land" made of seaweed and flotsam, much as JimP suggested with pumice, but as this is a fantasy world, you could also have a continent that isn't there all the time, with some key mechanism to get safely there - and perhaps back too. Such as a specific set of circumstances that have to align every X number of years, or more or less often, depending on what works better for the storyline.

    Or you could have an entirely undersea continent, not a sunken land, but a land that has never been above the waves.

  • Or you could have a continent that is sometimes there or not, depending on the gas build-up under the surface crust?

  • Love the suggestions and discussion! I have an idea that I'm working on, just got to see if my sculpting skills are up to it.

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