Preview: Dolmenwood Campaign Map

Gavin Norman dolmenwood

Anyone who's been following the growth of the Dolmenwood campaign setting over the last five years (yep, it's really five years!) is no doubt familiar with the referee's map of the setting. This map was created in the very early days of Dolmenwood — before the first issue of the Wormskin zine, in fact — and has served as the only map of the setting since then.

As part of the development of the upcoming Dolmenwood Player's Book and Dolmenwood Campaign Book, I knew that I'd be needing a new map. In the five years since the original map was created, Dolmenwood has developed a lot. Aspects of the map have been fixed or altered. New locations have been added to the setting: villages, inns, standing stones, bridges, tracks, roads, shrines, ruins, etc. The original map is missing all of these fixes and new content!

I also realised that — as Dolmenwood is presented as a hex-crawl campaign setting — the map could be enhanced to better support the hex-crawl procedures that I've written for the Dolmenwood Campaign Book. A really good example of this is that the hex-crawl rules differentiate between several different types of forest terrain (e.g. boggy forest, thorn forest, fungal forest, etc.). The original map doesn't indicate these different terrain types... but a new map could!

So after many months of pondering exactly what information I'd need on a new map of Dolmenwood, I emailed award-winning cartographer Glynn Seal of MonkeyBlood Design and proposed the project to him. As a fan of Dolmenwood and a contributor to the Dolmenwood Campaign Book, Glynn was delighted to take on the task of creating a new map of everyone's favourite spooky fairy-tale forest!

I can now reveal some previews of the new map!

Whole Setting Overview Map

Some notes on this map:

  • This is a very low-res preview image. (If you right-click and open the image in a new tab you can see a bit more detail.) The real map is very high resolution, suitable for printing at large scale.
  • For the sake of not including too many spoilers in this post, I've switched off some of the secret locations that are shown on the map (e.g. the locations of Dolmenwood's many ley lines and standing stones, the bases of various factions, and so on).
  • Check out the various terrain types that are indicated on the map (see the key at the bottom right).

A Couple of Close-Ups

Here are a couple of much closer views of the map, where you can really see the level of detail on the map when it's zoomed in. Both of these contain little snippets of secret stuff / spoilers, so players in Dolmenwood games are recommended to not look too closely.

Layers

One of the really cool things about the new map is that it's constructed as a series of (many!) layers, each layer containing information / graphics around a certain topic. This enables me to switch various bits of information on/off to create maps for different purposes. Some examples of the kind of maps that will appear in the Dolmenwood Campaign Book:

  • The forest divided into different regions.
  • The ley lines and standing stones.
  • Fairy doors and paths.
  • Elevation contour lines.

Player's Maps

It's not only about secret maps for the referee, however. There'll be new, official — spoiler free, naturally — maps of Dolmenwood for use by players! More info on these coming soon.

Posters?

While plans for the Dolmenwood Kickstarter are far from finalised at this stage, I will say that those plans will almost certainly include poster maps of Dolmenwood. There may even be the possibility of nice cloth or canvas maps, depending on manufacturing possibilities. All will be decided and revealed in time...


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  • Gavin Norman on

    >No update on Dolmenwood since April – can you tell us what’s happening with this?

    There’s still a lot of work to be done before it’ll be ready for publication, so the estimated publication date is now “when it’s ready”. With a project this big that I’ve been working on for years, I don’t want to rush it to some artificial conclusion.

  • Jason King on

    No update on Dolmenwood since April – can you tell us what’s happening with this?

  • Andrew McDonald on

    Just shut up and take my money!!!!!

    This is looking to be really good campaign material.

  • Gavin Norman on

    >Its so great to see an updated version of the map! A couple of thoughts from my experience looking over it. Take them or leave them.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts! These previews are of the finished map, though, which won’t be changed any further.

  • Brian on

    Its so great to see an updated version of the map! A couple of thoughts from my experience looking over it. Take them or leave them.

    Perspective effects kept me from “seeing” the forest for a good 20 seconds. I think it has to do with three elements: how the interior features of the forest are 2-dimensional (Fog Lake, roads, icons, etc.), how the forest’s edges are drawn to represent their 3-dimensional nature, and how sparse the blanker spaces of the interior of the forest are (Hex 107 and many others). The result was that I didn’t “see” the predominant green as a forest for those 20 seconds, which was quite jarring. It looked like fields of grass to me. This could be an artifact of the layers you have turned off, but I wanted to put my two cents in anyway in case I’m not alone. Some possible ideas if the effect persists: a) Change the green of the forest slightly to try to avoid it looking too “grassy”. b) Add a few more canopy lines along the more blank regions to cue in the eye to height differences (unless those blank spaces contain a lot of stuff on other layers). c) Make the features within the forest more 3-dimensional (i.e. “drop” lakes, rivers, roads, etc. below the treeline). I love the farm fields around Brackenwold and Lankshorn! Those are a nice touch and the colors are really pleasing. I’d love to see a tiny cottage or two dotted in to give the impression that each hex is utterly unique even at this level of abstraction. The smooth blending of road names is another excellent touch. The colors and rippling text that parrallels the road keeps them out of a scanning view, but adds an extra level of flavor in a close examination. Hope to see more of this for other features!
    I can’t wait to see the maps in the book!


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