Community Atlas: Embra - Enclosed Places

Having successfully negotiated the outer "ring" of Villages that comprise the initial appearance of the Faerie city of Embra when approaching it from beyond, using the "Official Guide" map, the first set of Places that might be encountered in the city proper are the Enclosed Places:

Or as we see from the new lower map, the Enclosed Places of Interest, following along from the "tourist's guide" style of naming for these link-maps.

The perceptive will immediately spot the new-look frame border decoration, this time reworked after part of one in the Dover Clip-Art "Celtic Borders on Layout Grids" hardcopy book, combined with one of the Dover interlace bird motifs. The link-spaces themselves are simply labelled extracts from the final maps, with a couple of reminder notes for how GMs could use random rolls to determine where the travellers might be going next from here. The PDF and text notes include a further reminder not to forget which number was rolled if the final "Streets" location was chosen, as that map condenses five places onto one map, whereas the others feature just one place each.

LoopysueQuentenMapjunkieItalo Dude


  • Place 1 from this list is the Freed Haven Floral Garden:

    The general layout for all the "Places" maps is much as set by the "Villages" ones earlier, except obviously that the maps are now square (or occasionally rectangular). Although the scales have been retained, the unlabelled compass-rose has been omitted. While that decision was made partly for space reasons, it also follows along from the concept that in Faerie, sizes and directions need not be fixed. Plus the rectilinear borders provide clearer indications for such directions than the round "Village" map edges, should they be needed. The misty map edge is a reminder that the various Places in Embra do not link directly with one another, so visitors could go almost anywhere in the city from one Place to the next.

    This map clearly has more detail in its middle than the usual Forum resolution will allow, so a closer view seems useful for that:

    With all these maps, the intention is for there to be a toggle in the Atlas FCW version to allow the on-map labels to be turned off for greater clarity, given that sometimes the labels have had to be placed directly over the feature they're marking. There are though no buildings here - for all some elements might looks as if they should be (the accompanying text and PDF files explain more, and what the real nature of the not-buildings is):

    LoopysueQuentenItalo Dude
  • Place 2 is the "famous" Red Picket Golf Course (given Embra is, extremely loosely, derived ultimately from the real city of Edinburgh in Scotland, it proved impossible not to include something relating to golf in these maps of the Faerie city):

    This time, there is the option to hide the labels for the course separately from any other map labels, to make the various hazards and obstacles easier to see, although the labelling is essential to work out what is meant to be where in terms of trying to complete the course:

    A small key has been provided with this map as well, to better clarify what the recurrent features of the course are meant to be. The PDF and text files for this map describe in detail the Faerie elements of the course, which plays as something like a cross between "real" golf and miniature or crazy golf, with fantasy aspects to-boot. Of course, those descriptions also explain why the course seems both a lot smaller and shorter than real-world golf courses (key word "seems"...), and that it may take players, non-Faerie players especially, days to complete a round of the nine holes. Benefits may accrue for those who do persist and finish the course, however. And they may find their time has not been nearly so wasted as they may have felt while still playing (Faerie time-dilation can work both ways, after all).

    There are just a couple of buildings on the map, and these have been provided with internal-layout drawings via a couple more toggles in the Atlas FCW file for the ground floor, and the upper storey of the Clubhouse (only):

    LoopysueJimPQuentenBidmaronMapjunkieItalo Dude
  • Enclosed Place of Interest 3 is the Floating Dale Park:

    This can be used as a typical real-world park, with opportunities to wander around, or play outdoor games on the central Playing Fields, whose unusual shape may call to mind that Faerie outdoor games and sports may not be quite those familiar from the Mortal Realm.

    There are a handful of surface-level buildings scattered around the map's centre, as one of the map toggles will reveal:

    These include the Pavilion, where equipment for playing sports and games is available, as well as a restaurant in the central octagon beneath the building's dome. And yes, some of the vegetation is actually intended to be of living glass in Glass Tree Forest. And again yes, those ARE bridges made from rainbows over the River Clack. As ever, the text and PDF files will explain a little more about both facets, and others, from this map. In case this seems not very "Enclosed", there ARE boundaries to the Park which are deliberately less obvious than some.

  • The fourth Place of Interest here is Lady's Hollow Floral Meadow:

    Again, the borders are especially subtly-defined here (the paths), and it is a little difficult to pick-out details at the usual Forum resolution, so this is just the map itself, now with the building interiors shown (albeit there's just the one building that has such an interior):

    While there's probably less to explain overall from this map, there are a few features that benefit from some additional detailing - such as the castle-like garden of Lady's Rest and the High Pavilion dome - provided by the accompanying PDF and text files.

  • The fifth Enclosed Place of Interest, and the last to be mapped as an individual in this group, is the Lawn Market, part of the Twilight Market. This is a much smaller map than any of the previous ones, because the base had been randomly decided as coming from the old Judges Guild "Temples Book I". As I mentioned in-passing when describing the development of the whole Embra mapping project for the Atlas earlier, the Temples book used a different scaling to any of the other JG texts I was using to determine the base drawings for all these maps. As perhaps might be anticipated, they were of a size to better suit such individual structures, not the small geographic areas of all the other books. I did though decide to enlarge it from its original size, as that would simply have been too small to fit very much by way of market features into. Thus we arrive at:

    Again, this neatly demonstrates the difficulty in trying to emplace labels to identify specific small areas or items, hence the FCW toggle option to hide said labels for a clearer view:

    There are plenty of oddities here. Aerial walkways supported by themselves and platforms attached to four great trees, which all form a single living structure, with hot air balloons serving as market stalls for those using the walkways. Stone walls that actually aren't - well, they're not solid, but lattice-work frames that support living vegetation. Large numbers of tents and awning-covered stalls. Giant fungi housing more market stalls, and one even containing a three-floor tearoom. And a golden fun house that isn't a building at all, just a typical fairground structure, so there isn't an option to view the interiors of the buildings here, because there aren't any as such! It is though a great place to get a wonderful lawn. Just ask one of the lawn tailors to cut you a piece off whichever style of lawn you fancy of the size you need, and they'll slide it out from under the stalls so you can't even tell it's gone, and fold it up so you can carry it away easily in a pocket. This is Faerie, after all. PDF and text files will explain, as ever.

  • The final Enclosed Places map condenses the remaining five Places, all streets, into a single drawing:

    Lots to see here, so let's try a closer view of just the streets:

    All the streets had to be designed in a rather different way to the other Places of course, as there were no Judges Guild products that provided plans for such things in isolation. As I noted previously, instead I reworked a set of tables for randomly generating caves and mines from another old Judges Guild text to decide on their lengths, widths, types and layouts, although that system ultimately was more "me" than "JG". Once the base layouts were designed and drawn into the CC3+ map, the streets were redrawn as proper CC3+ streets of the appropriate width and character, and then the CD3 random street options were used to populate them with a range of houses suitable for their overall names and natures.

    The streets I came up with were often quite curvy, and the CD3 random street tool isn't too keen on curves and turns, and it can't really cope with junctions at all, so some of the random properties had to be moved, or removed, or adjusted, and sometimes redrawn using a combination of the base shapes that had been generated. Occasionally, some were swapped out for symbols, particularly where I wanted specific or important structures to be. I also decided early on that it wasn't going to be practical to provide interior drawings for all the properties involved - there were simply too many, and that ran the further risk of making them too much alike without a lot of care. I did contemplate doing interiors for selected properties, only to finally decide against that too. So if you need interiors, you'll have to come up with your own for these!

    I'll not go into detail here as to what some of the items on these mapped streets are. The PDF and text files in the Atlas should help in that respect. However, it is worth drawing attention to the most significant structure, the Thistle Street Barracks, home to the Knights of the Thistle, Embra's military and police-force, in as much as any Faerie settlement needs such things. These Knights are not entirely my own invention either, as real-world Scottish knights of the realm are known as "Knights of the Thistle" too, though Embra's are naturally of a more magically Faerie kind.

    As with all the other individual Places, the idea is these streets can be linked as loosely and in whatever ways GMs may desire to create fresh interpretations of Embra city.

    And this is only the first collection of Places in Embra. There are six more such sets still to come!

    LoopysueJimPMonsenQuentenMapjunkiepablo gonzalez
  • LoopysueLoopysue 🖼️ 31 images Cartographer ProFantasy

    Really lovely maps, Wyvern :)

    Have you thought of experimenting with a dark vignette, instead of a white one on those framed maps?

  • The white's meant to be a misty edge, because the edge isn't altogether real in this Faerie setting. There is a darker shadow cast by the frame too, easiest to see on the final, Streets, map, and I did try various options (dark glow instead of pale), but settled on this as the more suitable.

  • LoopysueLoopysue 🖼️ 31 images Cartographer ProFantasy

    It looks good. I was just curious ;)

  • I keep thinking how wonderful an interactive web atlas based on all this would be. The "Official Guide" would be the front page of course with map file links from every image. (Glowing frames for mouse-overed images would be fun too.) This is really amazing work. Thank you for sharing it with us.
  • BidmaronBidmaron Traveler

    Where do your poetic summaries on each map derive? Many are quite nice.

  • Many thanks everyone for your kind comments, "Likes", and so forth. Haven't been on here for a couple of days, so apologies if I've seemed to be ignoring anyone.

    I've been working on this group of maps for about six months now, so I've tinkered around with quite a few options, some of which worked better than others, and some of which have ended-up as something of a compromise. I went with the paler mists in the end (and there are some minor variations in the colouring and density in places) as I wanted Embra to be "lighter" in tone generally, although there are a few less welcoming spots too (we'll get to those...).

    Well, once the maps are in the Atlas, it should work a little like this, once you find Embra at least. It might have been nice to be able to swap from map to map without needing the linear Atlas structure, but the set was designed specifically for use that way.

    They're my own interpretations of images from randomly-drawn tarot cards. These are the notes regarding them that I gave in the opening "Embra" Forum topic:

    A few notes were added in the process, but I wanted more, less predictable, aspects too. I turned to two tarot decks, which each coincidentally consist of 78 cards. One card was randomly drawn for each Village, Place and Street from either deck, and extra comments added to the map. The decks were Tarot of the Secret Forest (although this online review page has a lot more images), illustrated by Lucia Mattioli (Lo Scarabeo, 2005), and Shadowscapes Tarot, illustrated by Stephanie Pui-Min Law (Llewellyn Books, 2010). Both are heavily Faerie-inspired in their designs.

    The texts were also designed to fit the available space next to the map, and how much text you can type into a single text-box in CC3+, so some of the descriptions were amended because of those constraints too!

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