Jeff Grubb's Ruminations, Comments, and Other Nonsense
Monday, April 28, 2014
X is for the Unknown
Every map begins with a blank space, to be filled by fact and/or fallacy. In whatever world you game in, whatever world you write in, whatever world you dream in, you ultimately have a map, and that map begins blank.The map fills in over time, whether from discrete items dropped into it, or general doodles that form into a greater unity. It could be the map of your plot as characters move from scene to scene, or the map of your world, showing the darker forces that move and rumble across its landscape.
You may overlay an existing map wholesale, but even that has its strong and weak spots, its areas that swell in size as a result of its importance, and those that diminish through disuse. Knowing every shop along a particular row is nice, but it is the ones that people actually visit that get more attention, whether the visitors are characters in a book or players in a game. Not all places on your map are created equally.
The map can be a private thing, belonging to you alone, never seeing the light of day directly but influencing how characters move from room to room or town to town. It can be a public thing, created with players and friends, where the borders of the map roll out ahead, being constructed as far as they can see, and no further. Sometimes you have the map planned, and sometimes you only know as far as you can see. Beyond that resides the unknown. You can hazard a guess, based on your present locality, but you don't know until you get there.
Yet when you get down to it, every map presented here starts with a blank space, a void, a place to be filled. X marks the spot. Here there be monsters.