Friday 10 May 2013

Hex Maps as In-Game Artefacts

The Second Empire of Humanity was dominated by Law. Angels lived deep inside the ziggurats, directing the affairs of humanity, motivating the Empire to civilise the heathens and bring order to the wild and weird beyond borderlands. Within civilised lands, Law demanded that the lands and people of the Empire were categorised and recorded. A key institution in this project was the Imperial School of Cartography, which instituted the model, maintained to this day, of idealised depictions of the nations of the Empire.

Something like this:

It is a shame that the Gazetteer series (and, actually, a lot of the BECMI D&D range) were not built to last - hardcovers were for the 'serious' AD&D gamers, it seems. Loose soft covers, unwieldy, if beautiful, hex maps - every time I dig something out of my box of GAZ goodness, the small tears grow a little bit bigger...  

Hex maps are wonderful gaming tools. They allow GMs and players to abstract movement and exploration to a level perfectly suited for sandbox play. More, they present the perfect foundations for a variety of sub games - domain management, trade, and war, for instance. It seems a pity, therefore, that when a player sees maps such as these, he or she sees them as objects that disassociate them from his or her characters in the game world. Thinking about this while on a lung busting run in the gym - incline up, heart rate at dangerous levels - I figured; 'why not make the hex map an object that exists in the world, so that when players consult a hex map (or fill one in, when mapping the wilderness ala The Isle of Dread) they can imagine that their characters are seeing the world abstracted in a similar fashion.'

[Of course, the production of hex maps that evoke these classic designs is within the reach of everyone, thanks to Hexographer.]


  1. You know, I'm wondering of they'll release teh Gazetteer series in pdf. With modern printing options, one could print the poster maps as necessary.

    1. I am surprised that we haven't seen them yet. I wonder if/hope that WotC have some plan for them, though as I understand it we're unlikely to see any new Mystara stuff in any format.

  2. HI Doctor, i need your help!(if you can!) i'm searching the double sided map of GAZ 7....have you got a scan of it?
    please let me know!

  3. Hi Manux. I don't have a scan of the map (up there in the top right hand corner of my composite map above), and the map is a little too big for me to scan on my A4 home scanner - except in a piece-meal feshion. I *try* could do that, but I'd have no idea how to reassemble the bits - if you think that you could, I'll see if I can find the time sometime over the next week.

    In the meantime, for the hex map alone, have you seen Thorfin Tait's replica maps? Here's the Northern Reaches:

    And, after everything else, I'm guessing that GAZ7 will be up on D&D Classics in a few weeks. They've been posting up the series, and are currently at GAZ4...