First of all, thanks for the input!
OldDawg wrote:While there was one instance of The Empty Quarter seemingly used as equivalent to the whole of the Desert, it was also listed as region within it. I think it would be better to have it a proper subset of "The Great Alasiyan Desert", roughly equal to the triangle formed by Ylaruam, Cubia, and Surra-Man-Ra (minus areas otherwise designated.)
I could only find one reference to The Empty Quarter in the whole Gazetter: the one you noted on page 31. Since it's noted as "Great Alasiyan Basin (The Empty Quarter - Rub Al-Khali)", and since "Rub Al-Khali" is Arabic for "The Empty Quarter", it seems pretty clear that it is a synonym for the Great Alasiyan Basin.
Now, whether Great Alasiyan Basin equals Alasiyan Desert or not is another matter - one that I was not able to find an explicit answer to in the Gazetteer. The best I can deduce is that since the whole desert forms a basin the names are all variations on "Alasiyan Desert".
While we could certainly go with your recommendation, I don't think it's supportable by official sources.
1. I would move "The Great Salt Basin" back up closer to the plateau rim as it is in the replica maps.
The current location of this caption is the same as it is on TM2 and in the Rules Cyclopedia maps. (Which is probably because my original updated maps were based largely on the trail maps.) Depending on which source we take as the most reliable, we have three options: GAZ2 position, TM2 position, or an average of the two. Any of these three options is acceptable to me. The movement of the caption southwards gives us some information as to the extent of the Great Salt Basin.
2. "The Dead Place" is plural not singular - its a region not a locale. One particular spot corresponds to the fall of Thanatos, but not all. Since the description is in and around the highlands, the label should probably be brought closer to the rim.
There are two references (that I could find) to the Dead Place in GAZ2: the first is to "The Dead Places (desolate areas of Nithia)" in the Ylari Region Chart on page 31. That's all it says about it there. The second is far more expanded - an adventure outline that takes up a third of a page on pages 63-64, and indeed goes into detail on the nature of the area.
According to the adventure outline, the Dead Place is very much singular, being the site of an Immortal battle - hence the battlefield symbol. The actual place is indeed a battlefield, albeit a pretty strange one. "The Dead Place itself is in a rugged badlands swept by sand dunes." It seems pretty conclusive to me.
On the other hand, it is not a well known area (the outline says that even mentioning its name is taboo and thought to bring down the wrath of the Immortals). In fact it seems that the nature of the place remains undiscovered. So perhaps it wouldn't be surprising if it was also referred to in a general way in the plural - especially on players' maps.
Nevertheless the Atlas aims for maximum (DM-level) accuracy, which is why I chose to display the battlefield with its name attached.
3. I would vote no on drawing an escarpment to signify the run up of the desert before hitting the coastal plain. You wouldn't be wrong to do so, per se, but as others have said, it's more gradual than shifts in altitude re: the Uplands.
No one seems to like the idea of drawing on an escarpment, but the fact that it's there is indisputable: "The Sub-Humid Coastal Plain: Along the eastern coast is a narrow strip of coastal plain varying from one to five miles wide. To the west it is bounded by an escarpment of 200 to 500 feet in elevation." (GAZ2 page 6c) I still think it would be easily marked with an intermittent line up the coast, and it would make a neat divide between the desert and the coast.
I guess if I'm going to convince anyone of this I'd better just make a variant so we can all see what it would look like. It's about time we had another variant map, anyway.
Variants are a great solution to this kind of problem, because they allow us to have the best of both worlds, so that people can choose whether to accept something slightly controversial or not.
[PS: Technical illustrator question - how are you adding the back-shadow/outline of color to text?]
It's very simple: just add an extra 2 point stroke to the text using the Appearance panel. Then drag it down so that it's below the fill of the text, and you're done. If you're using an older version of Illustrator before the introduction of the Appearance panel, it should still be possible, but you'd need to duplicate the text in order to do it. (Select the text, hit CTRL C to copy then CTRL B to paste behind. Set the stroke and the colour and you're done.)