Size/scale of Azeroth (the world) for RPG mapping

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Size/scale of Azeroth (the world) for RPG mapping

Postby Big Mac » Thu Feb 24, 2011 12:38 pm

There have been various comments (both here and elsewhere) about the MMO scale being "wrong".

There is a related discussion on the World of Warcraft: RPG Facebook page:

I asked this question:
Warcraft RPG at Facebook wrote:There has been some discussion, over at The Piazza's WoW: RPG forum about adapting the MMO maps to make them fit in with RPG scale. But does anyone know of any resources that can work out what size the world of Azeroth would need to be?


I've had a few interesting responses:

Zachary Rogers at Facebook wrote:Well, we know that someone can travel from southern Gilneas to northern Gilneas in two days with a small boat according to some quest dialogue in the Worgen starting experience.


(This was a human, by the way.)

Michael Koch at Facebook wrote:There is some info in LoC:

''Poyli Stonesole is famous in then Explorer’s Guild for his four-year walking journey that took him from Sunwell Grove to Booty Bay.
[...]
One Guild expedition using the airborne vantage point to confirm the details... of maps drawn by Poyli Stonesole managed to cover that pioneer’s trail in just under eighty days!
[...]
A zeppelin can cover about 500 miles in a 12- hour day of travel, allowing the crew time to rest and make any necessary repairs.''

LoC, 28

I once did the math assuming Stonesole and the zeppelin traveled in a more or less straight line from Sunwell Grove to Booty Bay, but that resulted in a ridiculously big Azeroth.


I don't know if these numbers are enough to help suggest how much the MMO maps need to be scaled up, or if they give you a reliable ratio. Perhaps Michael's research could be replicated.
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Re: Size/scale of Azeroth (the world) for RPG mapping

Postby night_druid » Thu Feb 24, 2011 1:56 pm

It's probably folly to try to get an accurate "real" size to Azeroth. Unless the developers come forth and say "we intended Azeroth to be 8,500 miles in diameter", the best you'll be able to come up with is probably "somewhere between the British Isles and Africa in size". :p
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Re: Size/scale of Azeroth (the world) for RPG mapping

Postby Bonetti » Thu Feb 24, 2011 8:39 pm

I think the MMO can be used as a guide for looks and relative size (in some cases), but they've done large-scale geographic changes even pre-Cataclysm (e.g. the zone revamps of Stonetalon, Ashenvale, and Silithus, not to mention that Eversong + Ghostlands + Quel'Danas is a LOT larger than the piece of the continent they're purportedly attached to). Size and travel speed in the MMO are dictated by "fun to play" not "let's be realistic here".

I suspect there isn't an actual scale because the whole thing has been developed as needed. The Warcraft 3 maps added a lot to Warcraft 2 (which added a lot to Warcraft 1), and even the relative positions of things in Warcraft 3 aren't close to the MMO -- and thus change between the Warcraft RPG and the WoW RPG.

One particularly egregious example: The Barrens (Warcraft 3, WoW (pre-Cataclysm). Razorfen Downs moved from northwest of where Crossroads was added (i.e. roughly where the harpies were pre-Cata) to the far south along the Thousand Needles border. Bael Modan (an unlabeled dig site just north of the label "Razorfen Downs" on the WoW map) moved quite far from the Mulgore border. The layout in the MMO doesn't match the RPG, either (Map 1, Map 2), but that could either be before those maps apply or after. There is a collapsed tunnel in the dig which could be what was left behind.

(Note: I'm working from pre-Cataclysm WoW because there aren't supposed to be events causing geographic changes between Warcraft 3 and the MMO. Post-Cataclysm, it's unreasonable to do a direct comparison.)

...which is really just a long-winded way of agreeing with this:
night_druid wrote:It's probably folly to try to get an accurate "real" size to Azeroth.


If it were me, I'd set the settled areas of the human kingdoms to be about the size of the Known World realms (Karameikos, Darokin, continental Thyatis, etc.), then drastically increase the in-between wilderness space so things aren't quite so crowded. However, such a decision doesn't necessarily have a direct relationship with lore, just a "this feels about right for running a game in" sense.
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Re: Size/scale of Azeroth (the world) for RPG mapping

Postby Big Mac » Fri Feb 25, 2011 12:23 am

night_druid wrote:It's probably folly to try to get an accurate "real" size to Azeroth. Unless the developers come forth and say "we intended Azeroth to be 8,500 miles in diameter", the best you'll be able to come up with is probably "somewhere between the British Isles and Africa in size". :p


True, in the end it is going to be a "best guess". But even being able to nail it down to those ranges, is going to give you a better guess. Within the minimum and maximum goalposts, you could then shoot for "what makes for the most interesting game".

Bonetti wrote:I think the MMO can be used as a guide for looks and relative size (in some cases), but they've done large-scale geographic changes even pre-Cataclysm (e.g. the zone revamps of Stonetalon, Ashenvale, and Silithus, not to mention that Eversong + Ghostlands + Quel'Danas is a LOT larger than the piece of the continent they're purportedly attached to). Size and travel speed in the MMO are dictated by "fun to play" not "let's be realistic here".


I think that trying for the same general shape would be logical. If you have areas where the individual locations are a lot larger than the continent they are on, I think this is an area, where you can try to use what you know of them to try to estimate a minimum size for the continent. If that lies in the middle of the two numbers that Night Druid is getting, then it helps to cut off the smaller end of the scale.

Bonetti wrote:I suspect there isn't an actual scale because the whole thing has been developed as needed. The Warcraft 3 maps added a lot to Warcraft 2 (which added a lot to Warcraft 1), and even the relative positions of things in Warcraft 3 aren't close to the MMO -- and thus change between the Warcraft RPG and the WoW RPG.


I'm sure it hasn't been to Blizzard's advantage to nail down the numbers.

I would personally be tempted to put WoW RPG (and thus the MMO) over Warcraft RPG (and Warcraft 1, 2 and 3). But for anything that doesn't fit onto both maps (maybe something like a village street plan) I would ask if a "variant map" from the Warcraft 1, 2, 3 games could be renamed and reused as an alternative village in the same geographical area.

Bonetti wrote:One particularly egregious example: The Barrens (Warcraft 3, WoW (pre-Cataclysm). Razorfen Downs moved from northwest of where Crossroads was added (i.e. roughly where the harpies were pre-Cata) to the far south along the Thousand Needles border. Bael Modan (an unlabeled dig site just north of the label "Razorfen Downs" on the WoW map) moved quite far from the Mulgore border. The layout in the MMO doesn't match the RPG, either (Map 1, Map 2), but that could either be before those maps apply or after. There is a collapsed tunnel in the dig which could be what was left behind.


I would be tempted to discount the Warcraft 3 location, but look to see if there is anything extra (like a close up map with extra buildings that the MMO does not have) that can be raided.

If we have RPG maps, I would be inclined to stick with those. Perhaps the MMO map of Bael Modan could be turned into a second, nearby, cave complex. (You could even suggest that the two tunnel complexes were once connected.)

Bonetti wrote:(Note: I'm working from pre-Cataclysm WoW because there aren't supposed to be events causing geographic changes between Warcraft 3 and the MMO. Post-Cataclysm, it's unreasonable to do a direct comparison.)


That sounds logical. I think it would probably also be logical to move the MMO and computer game maps to fit in with the RPG style (unless that style is ugly or problematic).

Bonetti wrote:...which is really just a long-winded way of agreeing with this:
night_druid wrote:It's probably folly to try to get an accurate "real" size to Azeroth.


:lol:

Bonetti wrote:If it were me, I'd set the settled areas of the human kingdoms to be about the size of the Known World realms (Karameikos, Darokin, continental Thyatis, etc.), then drastically increase the in-between wilderness space so things aren't quite so crowded. However, such a decision doesn't necessarily have a direct relationship with lore, just a "this feels about right for running a game in" sense.


You (and Night Druid) were already shooting these sort of estimates elsewhere. Mystara kingdoms could be a good model for WoW RPG map scales. Greyhawk, Forgotten Realms, Dragonlance and other settings could also give you clues. If you threw down all the sizes of similar fantasy kingdoms, perhaps it would be possible to work out, not only that Azeroth needs to be between the size of the British Isles an Africa, but that specific parts of the world also need to be ring-fenced between a minimum viable size and a maximum viable size.

Even looking at a place like Ironforge could be helpful. It is contained within a mountain, so expanding the city expands the mountain too. If that mountain, and the other mountains are kept to the same scale, you might force the size of Azeroth upwards. The same applies to Gnomeregan.
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Re: Size/scale of Azeroth (the world) for RPG mapping

Postby Lord Zack » Sat Feb 26, 2011 8:08 pm

I wouldn't assume that the regions are necessarily to scale on the WoW map. For instance, let's look a Ungoro Crater. If it were to scale on the WoW map, it might be hundreds of miles across, depending on exactly how big Kalimdor is, and would probably not resemble the zone seen in game very much. Yes, there are craters of that size on Earth (like Vredefort crater), but you wouldn't be able to see the other side from the edge, in fact due to forces of erosion and the like the crater walls would probably not be a complete circle. Similarly, Teldrassil and the Azuremyst Isles would probably both be a lot smaller than they're shown to be in the map and also a lot closer to the mainland. Many zones would be either spread out, with a lot of new stuff in between existing areas, others would be closer to the ingame size, but with the edges expanded and having new stuff in them. Some areas might not be part of any ingame zone at all, but "blank" and needing to be filled by the GM (so much the better, I say. That way there's plenty of room for anything I might want to put in there).
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Re: Size/scale of Azeroth (the world) for RPG mapping

Postby Bonetti » Sun Feb 27, 2011 8:11 am

Welcome to the Piazza, Lord Zack!

It would be an interesting project to come up with a map scaled by the community, since there isn't a canon one. I think you and I are on roughly the same page (in that the MMO can be used as a reference, but it's deeply unreliable).

A good start is cataloging the lore references to size (e.g. the travel times mentioned earlier). Someone who has time might want to scour the RPG books to see if the story tidbits have ideas there :-)
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Re: Size/scale of Azeroth (the world) for RPG mapping

Postby Big Mac » Tue Mar 01, 2011 12:14 am

Hi Lord Zack! Nice to see some new blood here. Welcome to The Piazza! :mrgreen:

I think you are right about things like craters. I think that there are some elements of the world that would "pull" other parts towards them. And I think there are other elements that would "push" other parts away.

I think that the crater is going to be one of those "pull" elements. Like you said it does not work if it is made to be too big. And I think that things like the farmlands around Stormwind are going to be "push" elements, as you need to spread them out a bit and add in more of them.

As Bonnetti said, the first step, for a WoW: RPG map, would be to catalogue distance and size lore and see what that does to the world. I can see the MMO map being put onto a rubber sheet and some bits stretched a lot more than other bits. I think I would still be curious to know what the average amount of expansion would need to be, as it would possibly give an idea of how much distortion the elements with a "pull" would cause.

It does seem a difficult project. Perhaps a first pass could be made of certain areas, and then they could be adjusted to fit in with nearby areas. I think that what you keep probably depends on the specific area you are looking at.

There is a woman who has been doing this for Greyhawk maps for several years. She has a team of people giving her feedback about errors and improvements. Maybe one day someone can do something like that for every RPG world.
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Re: Size/scale of Azeroth (the world) for RPG mapping

Postby night_druid » Tue Mar 01, 2011 12:27 am

You'll find that Azeroth is poorly scaled, and with its ever-changing geography its difficult to really do a project like that. Putting the maps into a more realistic scale would create massive gaps where you'd have to put literally hundreds or even thousands of towns. Its problematic even with highly-detailed settings such as the Forgotten Realms. With Azeroth, you have kingdoms that probably should be as big as large countries (such as say France) with maybe 4 or 5 towns; the Kingdom of Stormwind should probably have thousands of settlements larger than a few hundred people, for example.
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Re: Size/scale of Azeroth (the world) for RPG mapping

Postby Bonetti » Thu Mar 03, 2011 10:57 pm

I'd have to do a re-read to see if there was any detail (and, well, I'm sort of hesitant to re-read that badly written of a book), but my impression of Cycle of Hatred was of a much, much larger Durotar than the in-game zone is (walked across in a few minutes). Also, I think the Alliance encampment at Northwatch Hold seemed to be days from Ratchet, rather than a short sprint, and Theramore was comparably far south.
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Re: Size/scale of Azeroth (the world) for RPG mapping

Postby Lord Zack » Thu Jun 16, 2011 8:14 pm

"Don't worry, Captain. I've got the whiz kids down in the Alchemy Corps prototyping my Unpungent Reekaway Cannons this week. Should help to blast that nasty smell from our halls. Why don't you and your squad take the rest of the day off, go grab some pints down at the Thunderbrew?"


This quote is from the short story, "Gelbin Mekkatorque:Cut Short". It's interesting, since it suggests that, unless the Thunderbrews have established a tavern in New Tinkertown, the Thunderbrew Distillery, and thus Kharanos, is pretty close.
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Re: Size/scale of Azeroth (the world) for RPG mapping

Postby Bonetti » Thu Jun 16, 2011 9:31 pm

If you assume they're mounted, then probably no more than an hour's ride away. If not, then probably an hour's walk, give or take, which does put Kharanos only 2-4 miles from Gnomeregan.

Nice catch, if disappointing on world size ;-)
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Re: Size/scale of Azeroth (the world) for RPG mapping

Postby nils » Sun Jun 26, 2011 6:49 pm

The Greyhawk Atlas is here: http://www.ghmaps.net/ (to save anybody else who reads this the googling).

There have been a few projects to "measure" Azeroth, and the result is that each continent of Azeroth is merely a few square kilometers in size. According to this: http://www.wowwiki.com/Talk:Azeroth_%28 ... of_Azeroth the scale between mmo and fiction is 1:280, that is, Azeroth should be 280 times as big as it appears.

This is a cool project that looks into the physical properties of Azeroth: http://www.spaaace.com/cope/?p=111 - although it does get carried away eventually, it's not like we didn't know that Azeroth is fake.

As an aside, this is a cool comparison of the size of video game worls: http://wow.joystiq.com/tag/size-of-azeroth/ Azeroth is tiny...

It might be an interesting exercise to create a "realistic" map, if you don't mind grossly violating canon to the point where you actually fork the setting, but I'd put that energy into my own settings instead.
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Re: Size/scale of Azeroth (the world) for RPG mapping

Postby Big Mac » Wed Jul 13, 2011 2:16 am

nils wrote:There have been a few projects to "measure" Azeroth, and the result is that each continent of Azeroth is merely a few square kilometers in size. According to this: http://www.wowwiki.com/Talk:Azeroth_%28 ... of_Azeroth the scale between mmo and fiction is 1:280, that is, Azeroth should be 280 times as big as it appears.


Interesting results.

nils wrote:It might be an interesting exercise to create a "realistic" map, if you don't mind grossly violating canon to the point where you actually fork the setting, but I'd put that energy into my own settings instead.


I wonder if Robert S. Conley's sandboxing methods are the way to go.

If you assume that the global map is the "correct shape", that countries are also the "correct shape" and that the dead centre of capitals are in the right place, you could end up with an expanded map that works. You could even put in the roads.

Adding hundreds or thousands of towns would not be too bad if you only did it in the specific area your campaign was in.

If there was a way to collaborate on maps, it might be more manageable.
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Re: Size/scale of Azeroth (the world) for RPG mapping

Postby nils » Sun Jul 24, 2011 11:48 am

This Wikipedia article is fairly enlightening on population in the middle ages: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medieval_demography
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Re: Size/scale of Azeroth (the world) for RPG mapping

Postby Big Mac » Mon Aug 29, 2011 10:43 am

Lord Zack wrote:
"Don't worry, Captain. I've got the whiz kids down in the Alchemy Corps prototyping my Unpungent Reekaway Cannons this week. Should help to blast that nasty smell from our halls. Why don't you and your squad take the rest of the day off, go grab some pints down at the Thunderbrew?"


This quote is from the short story, "Gelbin Mekkatorque:Cut Short". It's interesting, since it suggests that, unless the Thunderbrews have established a tavern in New Tinkertown, the Thunderbrew Distillery, and thus Kharanos, is pretty close.


I just noticed they have Gelbin Mekkatorque:Cut Short in PDF format, if anyone is interested.

nils wrote:This Wikipedia article is fairly enlightening on population in the middle ages: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medieval_demography


That is a useful article. I'm not sure how "real" Azeroth is and what era it would equate to, so I wouldn't know exactly how to apply it.
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