Over the past few months I have managed a fair amount of world building. One of the elements that took the longest for me to put together was the map you see here.
I realize maps can be a divisive issue for a lot of people; some love to have them included, others hate seeing them. Regardless, I needed to be able to see the world for myself and know how it all fit together. How long would it take to travel by horse from Aerlyn to Neburn? (About 3.5 days.) How long to sail from Eldenport to Opstead? (Can be done in a day under ideal conditions.) Is Kaldale east or north east of Clearhaven? (East, but you have to go north or south first to get there) These are the sorts of questions I need to answer to write this story and seeing everything in place on a map is incredibly helpful.
In reading the arguments both for and against including maps with the story, I came down firmly on the side of “Do” and could only agree with one point made by the “Don’t” camp: that seeing a map with 4 towns listed spoils the hero’s journey somewhat by telling you that they will be visiting 4 towns. I get that.
To avoid creating that situation here I have included all cities and towns above a certain size. If there are more than 1000 people living in a given town in it is included. Rein will only be visiting some of the ones listed and a few more smaller towns that are not on the map (but I know where they go now).
Another tool I created which proved incredibly helpful were my naming tables. Currently, I have two: one for cities and towns and another for people.
The concept is simple. I choose a list of prefixes that have the sound or feel I am going for and put them in a numbered list. Next I choose a list of suffixes that meet the same criteria and put them in a second numbered list. I number my lists sequentially but I don’t think that is required. Then I use this random number generator to generate a number from the fist list and then a number from the second list. Put the prefix which corresponds to the generated number together with the suffix generated by the second number and Voila! A name. Sometimes the resulting name doesn’t work. It will be too long, not easy to pronounce or doesn’t flow well. In those cases I will just scrap it and generate another.
So there you have it. A glimpse into the tools I use to help build the world for the stories that will take place in Aterlor and surrounding areas.