Tales of Aethir

Welcome, all, to The Tales of Aethir.

I'm Dungeon Master Gaz. Gaz. DMG. Whatever you prefer to call me. You're all my friends here. The reality is my name is Gary and I am, and always will be, a Dungeon Master, and the first Tale of Aethir that I will tell is my own.

I've mentioned before that I first saw adverts for Campaign Cartographer in role-playing magazines that I used to read as a teenager. I dreamt of the worlds I could create with this seemingly incredible software, but it wasn't until I was an adult that I was able to afford to buy the software and realise what a dungeon master I could be with such a tool at my disposal.

But, do you know what was the greatest thing about CC3 for me?

Almost ten years ago, once I though I knew how to use Campaign Cartographer, I submitted three maps for acceptance in the Profantasy Map & Catalogue Library - Tohrn: a campaign map made with my first attempt at custom symbols; Sapling Hollow: a town map that was my first try with City Designer; and Helgaunt -my first Cartographers Annual piece using the John Speed city style. andthe greatest thing about CC for me was that Ralf published them in the catalogue.

From that point I understood what a supportive, experienced, helpful and friendly community existed here.

Since then, life; computer problems; life; laptop explosions; failed external drives; life; waiting for all the annuals to be converted to CC3+ (lol), and life has meant that I have only lurked on this forum for a long time. Things are different now.

Now I see Ralf's always encouraging comments; Monsen's textbook tutorials; Dogtag's superb technical advice; Quentin and CWR's wisdom and imagination, and all the wonderful contributor's - too many to name - threads, WIP's, and support - and it's the whole community that I ultimately have to thank for the maps I make.

So, enough of my tale, and time for one of those maps that CC3, CC3+, and more than anything, this forum has unknowingly inspired and helped me to make.

This one's for Ralf. I know he likes my take on his Classic Fantasy style, so I I created a map of the island kingdom of Icara, from my world of Aethir, in this style as my first submission.

I hope to take anyone that's interested on a journey through the rest of my world In the rest of this thread as I bring you more Tales of Aethir.



  • DogtagDogtag Moderator, Betatester Traveler
    edited July 2017
    Just... wow. Just as with the world map you posted in your Classic Recreations thread, you really use this style to great effect. The whole thing is gorgeous and intriguing, but I especially love what you did with the Lost Island of Violanta. Inspiring stuff! *is humbled*   *again*  :D

    Thanks for sharing. I'm eager and excited for the tour and tales ahead.

  • This is a fantastic looking map! It is very inspirational! I love the way you draw your coast lines. It is something I've always had trouble with. can I ask you what size you made this map?
  • With summer, my campaign writing, and real life problems getting in the way, i have taken a bit of a break from mapping. I've got a bit of a "cartographer's block" (I recently completed a 9 map commission and contributed several maps to the atlas) - the well has run dry. Your earlier thread and now this? Well....keep the beautiful maps coming. They are certainly inspirational. I just love the muted color theme here. Gorgeous. Just gorgeous :)
  • Thanks, guys.

    As you probably guessed, The Island Kingdoms of Icara are based on a classical Greek/Minoan civilisation, with Violanta having been destroyed in a local natural disaster that plunged all but the highest mountain peaks beneath the waters of the Gulf of Icara.

    Violanta was the home to a city-state of dedicated warriors known as the Violantes - named for their brutal skill with sword and spear as much as for their homeland. Also, large areas of Aethir were changed and submerged during a cataclysm that rocked the ancient world, and creating this map was an experiment to see if submerged landmasses would work with this style in preparation for mapping other areas of Aethir that were lost to the sea. I was really pleased with the results, so I'm happy you like it too - Dogtag!

    Tonnichiwa - The original .fcw map is 3000 x 2400, but I exported it as a 4000 x 3200 .png to preserve the detail when my player's went adventuring in Icara, and I've reduced the image size to a 2000 x 1600 .jpg for this thread to reduce the file size. It's lost some detail, but that's to be expected.

    Lorelei - I'm no stranger to Cartographer's Block, haha! And I've learned that all things in moderation is a good thing, so don't worry. Kick back, and enjoy your other passions for a bit until you're batteries are recharged! You make some gorgeous maps too, so I look forward to seeing some more when you're ready :)

    I did originally intend on creating this thread in the Show and Tell category, but I took so long writing the first post that the system logged me out. I've learned from this before, so I always copy my text before submitting, but when I logged back in and pasted the post again I forgot to change the category. So, future Tales of Aethir will appear in the Show and Tell category. Apologies for any confusion :)

  • MonsenMonsen Administrator 🖼️ 46 images Cartographer
    Posted By: Dungeon Master GazI forgot to change the category
    You can change the category simply by editing the top post.
  • Master Gaz what an excellent map sir! What annual/symbol set did you use? The blend of colors is very well done. What I particularly like about this map is that it's a scaled in portion highlighting a distinct place. I like how you incorporated the snippets of where the island is in accordance to the larger world. I assume you finalized your edits within photoshop?
  • edited July 2017
    Thanks, Monsen. Didn't know I could do that! Done it now though :)

    FarsightX3 - Glad you like this map. Thank you. All my maps are 100% CC3+. It's more than capable of achieving the look or feel I want, so I don't need any image editing software to enhance or touch-up any of my maps. The inset world map is just created from the CC3+ world map I made with all the symbols, etc. hidden and then exported onto a new sheet in this map, and the three surrounding islands are actually part of the main map with just a border drawn between them to give the illusion of separate inset maps. The only work done outside CC3+ is simply re-sizing the final map and reducing the file size in GIMP so I can post it on here. The style I used is from the Cartographer's Annual Issue 101 - Classic Fantasy Maps. I just modified some of the sheet effects and added additional sheets to create the sea colour/underwater islands/etc., and give the map the look I wanted.

    The heraldic shield was created using the Annual issue 15 - Heraldic Symbols, and again imported from there into this map.

  • Very well done Dungeon Master Gaz!

    I especially like the coastal waters and the segmented sections for the other three islands. :-)
  • "Wow" doesn't cover it. This is a beautiful use of this style.I especially like the topography of Icara - very natural-looking.
  • Absolutely amazing <3 thank you so much for sharing this, I hope to see much much more from you! :)
  • RalfRalf Administrator, ProFantasy 🖼️ 18 images Mapmaker
    Wonderful, and thank you very much for your kind comments, I am very flattered! :)
  • HadrianVIHadrianVI Surveyor
    This is beautiful! Great job!
  • edited August 2017
    Thanks for all your comments Charles, HadrianVI, pixelkitteh, Ralf, and Barliman...

    I'm glad you all enjoy the map.

    Charles - The more information I can pack into single map, the more valuable it becomes to my players. The inspiration for creating this effect comes from studying John Speed's maps of the English counties. I absolutely love those - especially if I come across one hanging from the wall of a country pub! His use of insets to map the prominent cities and heraldry of a region is where any credit belongs. It's a great technique.

    Barliman - A wonderful compliment. Thanks, man. If I can create a map that appears real to my players I can suspend their disbelief of the fantasy world they're exploring and tell a story they will engage with on an understandable level - no matter how whacky the fantasy elements later become. It took many years of studying everything from the Times Atlas of the World to Gary Gygax's Worldbuilder - and everything inbetween - to create the illusion. Glad you appreciate the work. Thank you.

    Ralf - My pleasure. Its CC and the Annuals that allow me to make these maps. They're everything I imagined they would be and more. You only have to see all the incredible maps, from talented and imaginative contributors, posted all over this forum to know that. Thank you to you and all the Profantasy team!

  • HolyMoly!

    I missed seeing this earlier. This has to be one of my favorite maps on the forums to date. Wonderful!!!
  • DogtagDogtag Moderator, Betatester Traveler
    edited August 2017
    Well, if you like this map, you should see his world map in his Classic Recreations discussion!  =O
  • Again your maps are killing me. It`s a great inspiration for my own maps. What I like most at your maps - beside your gifted mapping skills - is that they tell stories. Several days ago I showed an old buddy of mine your Aethir world map. We were watching and watching all over the map, saying thinks like 'oh, this seems to be a nordic setting here', 'hah, look at the watchtowers, these guy have touble with that guys', 'Uh, are these Maya-style people over here?', 'what's going on on this island?' 'hey, I found a dungeon!' etc. After about 45 minutes my friend asked me, if there is a chance to participate in your campaign :-)
    So thanks for sharing, I love this forum for thinks like this.
    Best, Jensen
  • I've not been dropping-by here so regularly lately, the usual real-life things getting in the way too much, but I just had to say as no one else seems to have done so yet, that this style is now available to all to use via the August Annual, CA128, that I've just downloaded and installed - which although titled as "Mercator Revisited" in its accompanying PDF file (oops - that was July's Annual!), is actually called "Parchment Maps". And thoroughly stunning it is, as Dungeon Master Gaz has so ably demonstrated already!
  • DogtagDogtag Moderator, Betatester Traveler
    Yep, looks like Ralf was so impressed with DMGs maps that he made an Annual issue out of it! I made a 15-min. map out of it and, even though I didn't finish, it looks great! Thanks again, DMG (and Ralf)!
  • Hey everyone

    Today I’m flattered and overwhelmed. Ralf did approach me to ask if he could include some of the design aspects of my map in an expanded and re-imagined version of the Classic Fantasy Annual style that he wanted to publish in an upcoming Annual issue.

    Of course, I said yes! You can probably tell from my maps that the original style was high on my list of favourite Annual styles, so to be asked to help was a no-brainer.

    Campaign Cartographer has allowed me to express my creativity as a dungeon master for many years, and the opportunity to give something back is an honour and a privilege. I don’t take any credit for the style. All I did was take Ralf’s original Classic Fantasy Annual style, add some custom sheets, played with some sheet effects, and hit on a result that you all appear to enjoy. Now, with the release of the August ‘17 "Parchment Maps" issue of the Annual – I can’t wait to see what you guys can create with Ralf’s stunning new style! I’m just so pleased that I’ve brought some enjoyment to the forum and helped inspire what looks like a gorgeous new style.

    Jensen – You hit the nail on the head! I create my maps to inspire imagination, adventure, and storytelling for my own campaign. I’m very glad my world map of Aethir took you and your friend on an adventure too. You’re pretty much bang on with your observations about different cultures and locations, and I know I must have done something right if my map can convey that kind of information without me having to say anything. Thank you so much.

    Dogtag – bigging me up as ever, lol! Your enthusiasm to promote my other discussions is very much appreciated. My gratitude goes out to you… Now crack on, and get that new Parchment Maps style creation finished, and let’s take a look!

    Shessar, HadrianVI, Wyvern – Thank you, all! So happy you all enjoy this map.

    Finally tonight, a question from me to you more experienced forum users…

    …I do intend to continue my Tales of Aethir discussions, and share the other maps I’ve made detailing my world with you, perhaps once or twice each month – Is it better to create a new thread for each topic as the series progresses, or stick to this single thread? I’m not sure how manageable a very long thread would become. Your advice would be appreciated.

    Thanks again, everyone ?

  • MonsenMonsen Administrator 🖼️ 46 images Cartographer
    Posted By: Dungeon Master GazI do intend to continue my Tales of Aethir discussions, and share the other maps I’ve made detailing my world with you, perhaps once or twice each month – Is it better to create a new thread for each topic as the series progresses, or stick to this single thread?
    I won't provide a definite answer here, but generally, if much time passes between them, new threads are probably the best, especially if you showcase completely new locations, and not just go into more detail about the same location as the previous thread. For more high-volume posting, like a lot of maps in a short burst, it is preferable to keep it to a single thread and not fill the front page with threads.
  • And the more maps you attach to one thread, if all on the same page, it can slow loading of that page for some of us.
  • Thanks for the advice guys. Much appreciated.

    I understand what both of you - Monsen & JimP - are saying. I don't intend on bombarding the forum like a rampaging orc horde, and I've had similar issues where many maps are posted on the same thread and it takes forever for them all to load up and cause the thread to jump around as they do so. I wanted to find a good balance.

    My intention is to post two or three maps that support the topic (maybe one or two more or less depending on the topic) and create a new thread on a different topic every month or so. It all depends on what free time I have.

  • GatharGathar Traveler
    I don't know why everybody think this map is gorgeous. Don't get me wrong: I think it is gorgeous too, I just don't know why. It looks quite simple (compared to almost photo-realistic map other mappers are doing for instance), but still something attracts the eye, and don't let it go away! Is it the small map inserts inside the larger map? I've always liked those, they convey a sense of "mappyness" to a map. Here, we have them for 2 different purposes, which is even better, but I don't think it's enough to explain my accelerated pulse when I look at it.

    Maybe it's just that everything on this map is just done very very right, and everything has a purpose. As Antoine de Saint-Exupery said: "Il semble que la perfection soit atteinte non quand il n'y a plus rien à ajouter, mais quand il n'y a plus rien à retrancher." (perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away). I think this map quite nicely follows this principle.
  • DogtagDogtag Moderator, Betatester Traveler
    edited August 2017
    Well, there's something to be said for economy in a work of art, though personally I don't think this map is necessarily simpler than more photorealistic maps. But that's a discussion for another thread. Naturally, I can't speak for anyone else but, for my part, I feel RPG maps are as much art as they are gaming accessory. I feel similarly about older, real maps from our own history (combinations of art and function). Also, my opinions are often colored by the fact that I know how much skill and patience it takes to make a good map, which always factors into my appreciation for them. Factor in that DMG tweaked and modified an existing style to essentially make his own, and it makes it all the more impressive to me.

    And, of course, I apply my RPG map "litmus test:" does the map make me want to adventure there? And the answer to that question with this map is a resounding, if not deafening, "yes."
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