The Paizo blog today was all about the wonderful steampunk world of Zeitgeist from ENWorld and that reminded me that I need to post the rest of the Zeitgeist maps. I created these maps for the Island at the Axis of the World – the first module in the adventure path. You can download the adventure and the maps for free.
As well as the map of the City of Flint (above – or click here to see the map larger) I created an island map and a star fort for the adventure path:
I don’t create top down maps in this style too much anymore. It’s refreshing to lay in some sprawling mountain ranges and hills. In a top down map the location icons tend to be simpler too. This style is well within my comfort zone, but the border and compass design was a new feature. Those took some reference and a bunch of work to get right. This is a land of black powder, canons, and steam, so the decoration needed to evoke steampunk, and steamship adventure.
I particularly like the layout of the star fort. Nothing like a star fort to remind you that you’re in the era of canons. They look so different from classical medieval fortresses, with the outcroppings at the corners providing an uninterrupted line of fire along the walls.
Of course, this star fort exists in a world of magic and wizardry, so it also has a mythic maze guarding the central tower, teleportation circles, and passwall locations. But it wouldn’t be D&D without some high magic.
3 thoughts on “Zeitgeist Maps for Island at the Axis of the World”
The first one in particular makes me think about road placement in a city. It looks like you’ve put quite a bit of thought into the main roads of the city and making them useful as well as aesthetically pleasing from above. Do you put much thought into the smaller connecting roads? When I’m making maps for my games (mine are barely functional scribbles compared to these) I have been tending to put in the main roads where I need them, then add some more that look practical if it looks a bit bare. But the connecting roads they tend to end up being semi random (unless I’m trying to make a shape like in your fort map) however pure my intentions start off as.
Yes, the major roads are the most important to get right. I think about the different areas of the city and the places they need to get to. If there’s a big market square or a centre of government then that will be a focus of the nearby roads. Equally traffic needs to flow through a city from one side to another, so there need to be arterial roads. Troops and defence are important too. You want to limit the passage through city walls so there’s a natural focus of roads at the gate in and out of a fortified region. You’d also want good roads along the inside of the wall for troop movement in the event of defending the city. Those are the sorts of things I think about when designing the major roads.
For the minor roads it’s more a matter of considering the type of district in the city. A wealthy area will have large houses and few straight roads. They’ll look more planned and organised. In a poorer area it might be that the district grew from shacks and shanty towns and was allowed to develop more organically. That leads to chaotic road layouts and small buildings. In the city of Flint map that’s what I was shooting for in the Nettles. Finally, the terrain affects road placement. On a hill you want zig-zagging roads. On the flat the roads tend to be straighter. But mos importantly it has to look interesting – so yes, add in switchbacks and turns. Add in small squares and unusual layouts. It all adds to the interest. I try to make sure that I don’t have buildings without access to roads which also helps to define the minor road layout.
Hope that helps answer the question?