Electrum Pieces and Paper Pills

A Parallel World

noisms has an interesting post about a map created to scale of 1 mile = 1 mile. As suggested in his post, these map fragments could be a type of parallel world perfect for gaming. For me, it is a starting point to create unique gates, a new class of magic items, and a seed for "big bads" of all difficulties.

Here's the quote from Borges' One Exactitude in Science:

. . . In that Empire, the Art of Cartography attained such Perfection that the map of a single Province occupied the entirety of a City, and the map of the Empire, the entirety of a Province. In time, those Unconscionable Maps no longer satisfied, and the Cartographers Guilds struck a Map of the Empire whose size was that of the Empire, and which coincided point for point with it. The following Generations, who were not so fond of the Study of Cartography as their Forebears had been, saw that that vast map was Useless, and not without some Pitilessness was it, that they delivered it up to the Inclemencies of Sun and Winters. In the Deserts of the West, still today, there are Tattered Ruins of that Map, inhabited by Animals and Beggars; in all the Land there is no other Relic of the Disciplines of Geography.

Looking at any piece of the map (if you can unfold it) will help you navigate in the real world some of the time. The larger the piece, the more likely a PC will be able to use it to navigate. Let's say that if you take your piece of the map to the area it represents that a gate will open to a parallel world. Once characters travel through the gate, the map will change to represent the details of their new world. (This gives them a way back.) The downside is that the characters appear a random distance away from the place where they need to travel to reactivate the gate.

If the characters have an item from a parallel world, that item can help them travel to that world through one of these gates. It will require some divination magic to determine the path. I would set it as a second level spell (OSR/Swords & Wizardry) so that lower level characters will either be able to learn the spell fairly early in their careers or that it would be straightforward enough to hire the spell to be cast.

I have never liked Teleport spells, but in this world, higher level spells could teleport the caster from one point on the map to another. Again, this would work only when the caster is somewhere within the area represents by the map itself. To teleport any great distance would require a map larger than a horse-drawn carriage.

Doing some thumbnail calculations, a map made out of standard American 20 lb paper that displayed a square mile would weight about 3400 tons. Again, the material for the map would have to be much much lighter. In a way, this makes the back of map pieces valuable for anything requiring a lot of writing space. Imagine a spell book that is pages of magical formulas on one side of the paper, and a series of maps on the other side. In other words, take a spell book, and turn it over. Read from back to front to see a series of interconnected maps of a single room. (Each page is a little less than a square foot. A 100 page spell book would be about the same as a ten feet by eight feet room.)

Going back to the teleportation powers of the maps, let's say that a high spell level (4th or 5th) would allow the caster to teleport to the locale shown on the map. The caster would arrive anywhere within the area shown by the map. The risk in using the spell would be a chance that the caster arrives in a parallel world instead of his/her intended destination. Going back to the spell book made of paper from the great map, a wizard with his spell book could always manage to attempt to teleport to safety.

So let's set some definitions. The paper for the Relics of Geography looks like 20 lb modern paper but is exactly 1000 times lighter. One a small scale, that makes the 100 pages of a spell book weight 1/4 ounce. (The 3 lb weight listed in the d20 src must be the weight of the cover.) On a larger scale, a map showing a square mile weighs about 3.5 tons. This would require a team of three to six horses to pull. Folding the square map 17 times, should make it fit in a space that is roughly 20 feet by 10 feet, so it's a large carriage. Yes, it has to be many many times stronger than paper. It can still be stronger than anything, but easily cut.

I mentioned big bads earlier. These map fragments work to take things out of this world and to bring them in. Parallel worlds do not require any similarity at all to the standard campaign world. Considering the size of the entire map, pieces of the map are common enough that creatures of all kinds can travel around the multiverse looking for worlds that can be easily controlled and/or exploited. Since a spell is required to make use of the map fragments, the bad guys would most likely be intelligent.

Hopefully, more on this in another post. This was just too interesting to pass up. Thanks noisms! (Yes, visit his site. Always fun.)

Andras, Electrum Pieces and OSR Project

More than an Implied Setting for Andras

Using a tutorial on Campaign Cartographers, I was able to generate this artistic map on the Midosean region of Dwaneyarda (literally, "second earth"). I figured that the OSR doesn't need another toolbox without at least an implied setting. Dwaneyarda will be fleshed out in some detail, but not enough to be a full-fledged setting unless folks really like it. Having a setting makes it easier for taking ideas and adapting it to your game of choice. Dwaneyarda will also demonstrate the implementation of the rules and serve as a place to provide examples.

Many, but not all, the names are derived from a conlang called Lingwa de Planeta.

Here are some things that you need to know about Dwaneyarda:

  • The Midosean region is one of only two major bodies of water on the planet. The other major body of water, Nordeosean is a vast arctic sea that lies far north of this map.
  • Spells used by Priests are collectively referred to as miracles.
  • The use of psionics is as widespread as the use of magic.
  • Some schools of magic (along with spheres of miracles and disciplines of psionics) are more accepted than others. For example, the Necromancy school of magic is practiced in secret.
  • Dwaneyarda has a solitary continent.
  • The place names will be provided with an English Translation of the name. Materials created will have both names, but maps will always have the Dwaneyardan names.
  • The names of anything pertaining to player information (classes, kits, spells, schools of magic,etc) will be in English with Dwaneyardan in parenthesis.

Here is some information about the Midosean region shown on the map:

  • The Vakuamar (literally, the "empty sea") is an area of strong magical activity. Some believe it is a gateway to the multiverse. Others believe that it is an aberration of nature generated by the unfettered use of magic.
  • The borders of the Vakuamar are not literal - sailors have encountered it everywhere on the Midosean. However, most encounters take place north of the Isla Raduga ("the Rainbow Islands") so maps are drawn with it there.
  • The Lumataui is the great lighthouse than can be seen from almost anywhere in the Midosean. It was built for sailors to navigate around the Vakuamar. If the light of the Lumataui is not visible, you are likely inside the Vakuamar.
  • The cities on the map with towers are autonomous city-states. Those without towers are vassal states to another city. There are hundreds of villages, each with allegiance to one of the city-states not shown on the map.
  • The main road connecting the cities on the western side of the map is called Hunte Kamina (literally, the joined road)
  • The river is called the Anchun-Riva (literally, The Safe River). The origin of the name is uncertain though it may refer to the fact that the Vakuamar doesn't affect boats on the river. Branches of the river share the same name. Residents of the Midosean region do not make reference to the various branches of the river calling all of it Anchun-Riva. When describing the branches, they reference landmarks.

Here are all the place names translated into English:

  • Blisemar - By the Water
  • Bliyarke - By the Light
  • Isla Raduga - Rainbow Islands
  • Jamile - Beautiful
  • Lumataui - The Light Tower, The Lighthouse
  • Onok - On the Point
  • Pakamine - The City by the Road
  • Syaomar - Small Water or Bay City
  • Urb d'Arbre - The City of Trees, Tree City, Lumberton
  • Vakuamar - The Empty Sea
  • Versunorda - Northward
  • Zuyeste - Easternmost, The Farthest East

Feel free to use the map if you like it. If anyone is interested, I'll post the GIMP xcf file and the brushes I created. I like the format of this map because it is less tactical than a hex map or a spatially correct map.