Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Hexmap and Reality - Answer

Earlier today I posted up a map challenge asking people to ID what they thought a rough hexmap represented. Here's the answer:

If your guess was "a slice of the USA from Indianapolis to Washington DC," you were right!
Click for closer view
Here's the original again just for reference:

Click for closer view
Looking at the bare hexmap, it's easy to be fooled into thinking, "Oh, that's not a very big map." After all, it's only 30x15 hexes, more or less. But when you look at the terrain beneath it, the population centers, the rivers and roads, the little patches of hills and forests, and the intricate twisting coastline of the Chesapeake Bay, well, it becomes clear that an large scale hex map like this one doesn't capture the complexity of real terrain very well.

Obviously, looking at a modern map and drawing conclusions about terrain is not particularly accurate when comparing it to a pre-industrial world. For example, most of Indiana that's shown on this map was covered in forest as recently as 200 years ago, and a lot more of the coastline along the Chesapeake Bay was probably some sort of wetland. It's also important to remember that games are about fun and adventure, not mindless adherence to reality. Still, this sort of exercise is useful to maintain perspective on what you're game map might translate to when compared to our Earth. It's easy for us to forget just how big this place is. After all, you can drive from the west to east edges of this map in about 14 hours, but if it were undeveloped wilderness, and you were on foot or horseback? Months.

Examining a small area, say Charlottesville, VA and the six surrounding hexes, shows just how much complexity is hidden away in a tiny part of a large map. The exploration process outlined in the 1st edition AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide suddenly makes a lot more sense, doesn't it?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: all comments are moderated to block spammers. Please be polite.