5 Maps to Inspire Your Role-Playing Games

I remember when I was a young pup of a GM, piecing together a campaign world with maps ripped out of a variety of fantasy novels. It didn't matter if I'd read them or not. The names of towns and mountain ranges alone evoked the magic of some faraway place where life is violent and coin was plentiful. I haven't worked like that in a while, but I really should. I thought I'd post five evocative maps that could be turned into an entire rpg setting, all taken from Strange Maps, a favorite blog of mine, dedicated to old maps, map art, map science and even fictional places. There, you'll find perennial favorites like the Nazis' win scenario, the Hollow Earth and Tatooine, but also these intriguing places...

The Inverted WorldOur own planet is a great place to start when designing a world. Take a less known country, flip it around, and nobody's the wiser. The Inverted World, designed by Vlad Gerasimov, is a thing of beauty in that vein. What would our world be like if it was 70% land mass? Water would be more scarce in this fantasy world and might be a strong driving force for economies and ecosystems. I don't know about you, but I want to live in Easter City.

Some places are complete invention, of course, and there's nothing wrong with doing as my teenage self did and taking them for your own. The Three Stooges' version of the Middle East, from 1949's Malice in the Palace, might be a fun place to set a slapstick comedy campaign, whether picaresque fantasy or Mission Impossible cold war shenanigans.

Map of Online Communities (circa 2007)
Here's an old favorite. Imagine a Tron-like campaign world where characters inhabit the Wide Web World. Visit the great libraries of Wikipedia. Defend MySpace against the Facebook invasion. Investigate the lost civilization of AOL. Recover an artifact before an IRC island sinks beneath the waves. The sky's the limit for the computer savvy gamer.

Titan's Methane Sea
Lest you think Strange Maps is only good for fantasy, steampunk and pulp games, let me throw some science fiction at you. Jump ahead a few centuries and Saturn's moon of Titan will have been terraformed. Towns could pop up around this particular sea, a true blank slate as it's one of the few features as yet unnamed in the known universe. Print and start drawing roads!

Where Broadcasts Are

Here's a fun idea for a space opera campaign that takes place in the here and now. Maybe we have "cousins" out there, or PCs could all be aliens. With this map, you can use old Earth broadcasts to determine just how far you are from the blue planet. Make it an essential part of navigation. Or perhaps these radio and television waves have shaped alien cultures all through the galaxy. With many GMs having a computer at the table these days, grabbing the proper images and sounds as living props isn't as hard as it sounds. Remember: If Night Court is playing, we must be at Vega.

I hope you'll visit Strange Maps. It might just inspire your next setting!


Lazarus Lupin said...

I love your last one, it would be perfect in any story.

Lazarus lupin
Art and Review


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