Thursday 1 May 2014

Mr Nibbs' MapMaker

Mr Nibbs' MapMaker is a pack of over 200 symbols that allows you to create countless poetic maps for almost any fantasy or historical campaign. Trees, hills, mountains and more are all included, with detailed walk-throughs to guide you through the process of making fantasic maps.

There is a video preview of the manual at:
MapMaker is available from:

Sunday 27 April 2014

More new maps!

Mr Nibbs returns with some new draft maps and a few new videos on Youtube.

The base map from Beyond the Pit gets an overlay to show terrain types. 
There is a short video at

A quick heads-up about getting down and dirty in Port Blacksand's sewers.
There is a short video at

Lord Azzur's Palace revisited. 
There is a short video at

Saturday 7 September 2013


The globe model has had some geography added. There are more photos on the Arion Games forum.

Thursday 5 September 2013


A detail from the new sketch map of Allansia in progress. There will be a map legend to identify different types of terrain, ground cover and general climate. 

Tuesday 25 June 2013


Here are the first sketches for Salamonis. The layout is based on a real 15th century city and takes a wide range of practical things into account, although only a few are shown here.

The faubourgs are fun to design. The idea is that one family runs each faubourg, so there will be a manor house and a temple in each. With gatehouses and trade buildings in place, the details can be added later. 

Introducing gunpowder into a game brings some challenges, as defences need to be redesigned to withstand cannon shot, sapping and mining. Town layouts need to be redesigned so that cannon can be used effectively and fire down open streets where attackers are channelled by the faubourg walls.
Some of those ideas have been used here.

Sunday 9 June 2013

Fantasy & History

Fantasy mapping can use real world examples to create more plausible and predictable settings. In the real world, there is a practical reason why something is built the way it is. This is usually because it is developed from a tried and tested idea that actually works. Whether you need a plan for a large building or an overview of a community, adapting something from history is a useful way to develop a fantasy region, create a local history and generate adventure seeds. 

"Merton Priory, situated on the banks of the River Wandle in Surrey, was one of the largest and most influential monasteries in southern Britain. Apart from one engraving of a chapel in 1800 and the survival of parts of the precinct wall, nothing was known of its exact location until the early 20th century."
David Saxby, Merton Priory, Museum of London Archaeology Service.

In 1914, this 12th century arch was discovered during a demolition. 

This was a great excuse to dig some holes. 
The photo above shows the Chapter House site viewed from the north west. 

Excavations were made in the areas bordered red. Later, the site was mapped. 

Meanwhile, the original arch had been restored and relocated. 

For more info on this and other projects, visit
Merton Priory Arch illustration © Steve Luxton. 
Other images © 2005 · Museum of London

Friday 31 May 2013

Lord Azzur's Palace

This is a first draft for Lord Azzur's Palace. Totally non-canon, but it might provide some inspiration for writers. The basic idea is to reflect the development of the site. It begins with a simple motte and bailey castle built on an artificial hill. The other buildings are extensions and additions which appear plausible in the progression from a defensive castle towards its current status as a grandiose palace and centre of government. It has its own dock and garrison. The finished site plan might well include seven or eight levels, three of which are below ground. 


Designing a city map from scratch is considerably easier than mapping an existing fantasy town, many of which do not make sense in practical ways. Cities grow from successful settlements and change over the centuries in ways which are fairly predictable, as common requirements dictate. The reasons for a settlement being where it is, and the landscape itself shapes the way a city changes. These sketches are based on real town maps of the 15th and 16th centuries.

Because the size of Titan has yet to be decided, the map area above is not to scale but still gives an impression of the landscape. The type of bedrock, water aquifers and shape of the hills all have implications which help narrow down the options for development later on. 

First draft for the 3D map area.

A more detailed map showing possible land use and the different trade quarters one might expect in a growing town. One of the principle aspects of town layout is the fresh water supply, irrigation and, of course, plenty of underground (or covered) rivers and sewers to dispose of the enormous amount of refuse generated in a town of this size. "Wooden hills" should read wooded hills.

Based on a 14th century town plan, the 3D sketch above shows a citadel and defensive structures, viewed from the northwest. The four islands are artificial. The moats have been cut into the landscape and bridged strategically. Once these are in place, the rest of the city and the faubourgs (literally "out of town") can be planned around it.

These initial sketches are speculative but seem to work quite well, despite the fact that the landscape doesn't quite match the 3D map of the area around Salamonis. Feel free to use this as a base for designing your own towns and cities.

Wednesday 22 May 2013

That's more like it...

The new maps of Titan have taken months of development. Learning new software, playing with ideas that didn't work and making dozens of experiments and errors means these maps are 90% accurate. The globe has been assigned an arbitrary circumference of 12,000 miles, but can plausibly be as small as 6,000 miles.

If they are not too busy with other projects, the Titan Re-Building team will be doing their typically excellent job and collating my new cartographic cock-ups in a handy list while I am busy messing up something else. 

Other maps in progress include sketches for Azzur's Palace, the area around Salamonis and a 3D model of Port Blacksand. There are some sketchbook pdf's for you to hunt down. If you have them please share them around. More updates coming soon.

Tuesday 9 October 2012

Getting the final tweaks to the plan map so that it still looks right on a globe is tricky. This is the result of experimenting with distorted proportions, projecting onto a globe and finding an image that doesn't look too strange. Luckily, those nice people at NASA Goddard have some great free software that does this in a few seconds, so it's really easy to do.

Here are some orthographic projections that seem to work well. Because the distortion increases at the edges, changing the viewpoint changes the shape of the continents. This is starting to work like real mapping now. We can assume that our global map is more or less complete and we can now give it measurements.


Seen on a globe, the continents of Titan look strange. Don't worry, this is normal.

 There's a big ocean out there. The Unknown Continent might be larger than supposed.

Allansia and the Old World are viewed from above the equator. The northern coastline will appear wider after the planet has been given an equatorial bulge. Khul is viewed from below the equator. The southern coastline will appear wider after the globe has been given an equatorial bulge.

Titan's North Pole. The ice cap shown here is probably a mountainous region buried under deep ice. As the seasons change, the polar seas will freeze and melt, creating a climate much like Earth's Arctic region.

Unlike Earth's Antarctic regions, the lands closest to Titan's South Pole are habitable. I imagine the Unknown Continent might have a landscape and climate similar to those of Iceland.

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Mapping Titan as a globe. Circular grids like this provide a simple way of projecting a plan onto a sphere. This particular grid is called a Wolffnet projection. The distortion increases with the distance from the centre of the grid. With this in mind I added the 3000 miles of ocean needed in order to complete the globe, which is now 6000 miles in diameter. 

Think of these as completely new maps. Earlier maps are incomplete or unreliable. Unlike the original maps these new maps are being designed to work as 3D models. The continents have been distorted to increase their landmass and reduce the amount of empty ocean. The new shapes may appear awkward at first, but we now have a map that fits onto a sphere. The next step is to plot the new map onto the globe.

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Friday 5 October 2012

We now have a world map of Titan that appears to work quite well. However, what you see is not necessarily what you get and now we can start getting to the heart of this project, the creation of a 3D world.

I found and painted this 80mm diameter globe last year. Over the next few weeks I will be building up the mountainous regions and other geographical features so we can get a better idea of how things will look.

The land masses were plotted onto the globe from map data. It was immediately clear that the Titan map did not show the whole surface of the globe. After some discussion the continents were altered and the oceans widened. Similar alterations here will make a big improvement in plotting and mapping from the globe.

There are some surprises and useful information here which we didn't have before. I am sure we are going to have plenty of great ideas about how we can build 3D models of Titan and re-map from those.

The Ocean of Serpents separating The Old World from Khul is much narrower than before.

The Western Ocean is really big. The landmass at the bottom is the Unknown Continent. I imagine it has an Icelandic environment and is actively volcanic. Titan's south polar regions are noticeably warmer than the northern regions. It is plausible that much of the southern polar region is actively volcanic.

The northern pole of Titan. The permanent ice cap shown expands as the winter progresses and may reach as far as the north west coast of the Old World. Both polar regions appears to be mountainous with tall peaks.  

The climate maps can be used to determine the directions of winds and sea currents and surface temperatures, which add detail to the environment. The Springhope Isles are equatorial and more isolated than before.

Khul is shown too large here and should not extend so far south. 

Allansia obviously needs to be shown much larger. The continents of the northern hemisphere rise high above sea level, while much of the surface of the southern hemisphere is open seas.

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