Overland map about a small area

Recently I have started a blog about designing maps, adventure sites, settings. One of our first projects discussed there would use an overland map, but the scale would be different from what we tend to have. Small area, next to a lake... It certainly made a few things difficult. At this point I had to decide if the usual lake tool is a good option, also had to think about how to represent hills, at this scale the hill symbols wouldn't work. So far I have come up with some drafts (no labels, there can be a few things adjusted) as basis for more.

Pictures will be posted on a 2nd post soon.

Blogpost about My secound attempt at "small area overland map" with some shaded relief
Blogpost about My first attempt at "small area overland map"
Cartographer's Corner Blog on EnerlaNET


  • edited December 2008
    The attached file shows some version of my first attempt.

    And here comes the 2nd one:
  • As you see these maps touch an interesting little problem. When you want to map a small area for any reasons some of the features that work well in normal overland maps won't work. And while the hill symbols can be replaced easily we can run into another problem. At this we might want to put important farms, wineyards, etc. on the map, as wel as minor roads.

    The area would be too big (and not developed enough) for a city map, and too small for our existing tools. It would be good to see what ideas you have for such maps.

    Sometimes they can show the lands of some minor noble (maybe a PC?), sometimes they can show the area used in a single adventure (I think you can name a few adventures that used similar scale). They can be used to help the PCs decide between some routes (and it can affect what kinds of encounters they face) or they can help them to "see" what is around their characters at the moment.
  • Any suggestions about how to make such maps better? :)
  • Well, I'd say that the first thing to do would be to start using multiple symbols for the towns- combining symbols together on the map to represent scaled-up town and village markers should help make those look appropriate to the size of the map. Beyond that, you should be able to recreate the field tool from CD3 in CC3, just by fiddling around a bit. That should help significantly in laying things out. There's also a random tree symbol that is more detailed than the ones you're using- I think it's listed as a dead tree, although all the variations do have foliage on them.

    The rivers and roads could use more polish, just due to the relative size on the map seeming overly small and a bit out of place with the solid fill style and rigid borders against the bitmap land fill. You might also try fractalizing them rather than sticking to the pure curves, as that seems more unusual as you get more detailed.

    Here's something I did that might be comparable to what you're trying to achieve:

  • To me the key problem was with the symbols. While your idea about expanding towns by using multiple symbols is an excellent idea, and I will try to do it on my map. But as you see the other key questions are linked with how should we represent terrain (not too easy) and how should we represent vineyards, etc.

    I think if we use your idea of multiple symbols for a village, it is good as long as no village has a stockade and there are no walled town, so it might be good for some maps, and can free up individual symbols to represent vineyards, etc. But not sure what happens when we see a wall. And it is hard to make the hills look nice and work well with scale.
  • Well, with regards to walls I'd say don't put them on the map- make it more of a stylistic thing than accuracy. The trees on my example don't represent individual trees, they're a rough expression of where the forests are. Nor do the bridges or towns shrink when they turn into ruins. Accept what you can't do and simply skip it. Meanwhile, if you can't get something to look right a particular way, try to find an alternative style that will work for you. Do an Internet search for bitmaps that might fit the look you're going for, or consider adapting several symbols together. For instance, if you're looking to do vineyards, why not simply use one of the Manse or similar symbols to indicate the winery itself, use an Amphora (appropriately scaled) as a symbol for wine, and then add fields around it, a la City Designer 3? While the fields may not look any different than any other field out there, it should get the idea across symbolically that there are vineyards there. You could even use small symbols for each field to indicate the crop without getting into the specifics- the standard wheat for exactly that, and then varicolored versions for, say, oats and rice, or corn. Use another symbol for vineyards, and so on. Similarly you could probably play with the grid and snap selections to set up a decent symbol for an orchard using the individual trees with fruit on them- just set up the distance, angle, and snaps so that you can put them in layered, orderly rows. Boom- orchard.
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