[Chainmail] Why is The Southlands all desert?

“You think your people will be free? You think you have escaped me? You mortals will have nothing but war, not a moment of peace until a new God of War rises to replace me.” Discuss the Sundered Empire featured in the Chainmail campaign setting, as it relates to pen & paper RPGs, here.

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Re: [Chainmail] Why is The Southlands all desert?

Post by Havard » Sun Dec 25, 2011 3:10 pm

The Forgotten Realms didnt see any published products (outside of magazine articles?) before 1987, so the Desert of Desolation adventures most certainly werent written with that world in mind.

Most AD&D modules prior to 1987 were probably written for Greyhawk or Dragonlance or simply written out as generic. Some of the very early modules (Tomb of Horrors for instance) may also have had Blackmoor in mind.

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Re: [Chainmail] Why is The Southlands all desert?

Post by ripvanwormer » Sun Dec 25, 2011 4:11 pm

Big Mac wrote:Is there any sort of canon link in I3-I5 to nail them down to the Erypt area or Oerth? Is there an explanation (anywhere - either in the I3-I5 modules, Dragon magazine or something else) to explain how a party would get from the Flanaess to The Southlands?
The Desert of Desolation series was originally published not by TSR, but by Laura and Tracy Hickman's own publishing company, Daystar West Media. As such, they were definitely not originally created for Greyhawk or any other TSR world. It's not even technically an AD&D (or D&D) adventure at that point, though it was compatible with that game.

I don't know what changes were made between the original versions and the TSR versions (though the above link describes some), but there's no indication in the published I3 Pharoah of what world the adventure might take place on. The adventurers are just in some generic exotic land, and the adventure background explains that they've behaved like drunken, spoiled co-eds during Spring Break. As a result, an angry wizard the adventurers have pranked is forcing them to travel in the desert to the south to help deal with hostile tribes (or face execution for the crime of wizard-annoying). If I were going to set it on Oerth, I think the most logical place would be the border between the Dry Steppes and the Sea of Dust. It would be harder to explain bringing the PCs all the way to Erypt, which anyway didn't exist in any form until the Dragon Annual #1 map came out in 1996.

Some people assume all the modules in the I series should be set in Frank Mentzer's Aquaria campaign, since the Egg of the Phoenix supermodule was, but there's no evidence for that. Of the I series, only Dwellers of the Forbidden City, Egg of the Phoenix, Tomb of the Lizard King and Baltron's Beacon have any official connection to Oerth, and Baltron's Beacon and Tomb of the Lizard King were only connected to Oerth via a retcon in the 3rd edition era.

In the supermodule version, the background was reworked extensively - the adventures get a letter from Elminster and travel to the Raurin Desert. It's very explicitly in the Forgotten Realms. The lost kingdom featured in the module was mentioned again in the Horde boxed set - it was one of the successor kingdoms to the Imaskari Empire.

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Re: [Chainmail] Why is The Southlands all desert?

Post by Big Mac » Sun Dec 25, 2011 10:36 pm

Thanks for the extensive information on Desert of Desolation.

Based on all I've been told, I'd say that it has no connection with The Southlands. But it might be interesting to ask Tracy and Laura Hickman where they would have run the adventure.
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Re: [Chainmail] Why is The Southlands all desert?

Post by ripvanwormer » Mon Jan 16, 2012 8:28 am

Bluebomber4ever over on the Canonfire boards has made a major discovery of the source of a lot of the names on the Dragon Annual map. Check out this thread.

Looks like I was wrong about Erypt not existing before 1996.

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Re: [Chainmail] Why is The Southlands all desert?

Post by snorri » Mon Jan 16, 2012 11:04 am

Wonderful discover ! I've been a fan of Black Moon Chronicles since the first issue.

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Re: [Chainmail] Why is The Southlands all desert?

Post by Big Mac » Fri Jan 20, 2012 5:04 pm

ripvanwormer wrote:Bluebomber4ever over on the Canonfire boards has made a major discovery of the source of a lot of the names on the Dragon Annual map. Check out this thread.

Looks like I was wrong about Erypt not existing before 1996.
Thanks Rip. I also got poked over this thread at Facebook.

It is great to compare the Chainmail map and the Black Moon Chronicles map.

Chainmail map:
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Black Moon Chronicles (Chroniques de la Lune Noire) map:
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Re: [Chainmail] Why is The Southlands all desert?

Post by Icarus » Wed Feb 01, 2012 7:35 pm

Well, the way I look at it, the Chainmail map of the Sundered empire is sort of an in-game map, depicted as most of the PCs and NPCs would understand it. The description of the areas specifically say that there are s'posed to be inhabitable areas south of the desert, but, the map doesn't really reflect that. They just sort of made the whole thing seem to appear to be the desert. Which, to most people of the Sundered Empire, would be something close to the truth. (Oh, by the way, y'all are correct in that "Sundered Empire" refers to the elven nation of Ravilla that was shattered into small remnants, but once comprised the entire region. When the God War begins, Ravilla is a tiny fragment of what it once was.) Drazen's Horde is known to have come out of the Southlands and crossed the Blasted Desert and attacked into the areas controlled by Ravilla ( in 1008, or 586CY).
Dragon Magazine #292 wrote:The Blasted Desert was the limit of Ravilla's expansion in the south. The Oligarchs were aware of habitable regions beyond the desert, but they were deemed unimportant. Even Trigorian, the elven warlord par excellence, scrapped an expedition across the Blasted Desert when it became clear that taking an army through such terrain would be a logistical nightmare. A few scouts did make the trek, and what they reported simply confirmed and strengthened the Oligarchs' stance.
The region below the Blasted Desert, known in Ravilla simply as "the Southlands," was found teeming with savage humanoids such as orcs, hobgoblins, and bugbears. While the sheer number of warlike brutes was of some concern, the scouts reported that internecine fighting was rampant in the region. Tribe fought tribe so often that the whole area was in a perpetual state of war. Only the goblinoids' legendary rate of reproduction kept the region from becoming depopulated by constant warfare.
One of the interesting things about the Dark Moon Chronicles map above is that it's from the MMORPG video game that was in playtesting, but as I understand it, never really went anywhere. Strangely, the video game doesn't really match the descriptions of the locations of the countries, and where they are in relation to each other, according to Blue Bomber, on the forementioned Canonfire thread. I kind of overlap the Sundered Empire map with the Dragon Annual map, and place the DMC names of the countries in the original locations from the Dragon Annual map. ... it's still in progress to work it all out.

Anywhoozle, I recently was working with CthuluDrew's timeline, and was trying to iron out a few dates regarding the Sundered Empire, and compared them to the known calendars of the Flanaess. I know it's only tangentially related, but, since we're discussing the Southlands and Sundered Empire, I thought some might be interested - please check my math!!!Event |Year (SE Calendar) |CY |OR |SD | OC |BH | FT Demon War |ca -487 to 13 | ca - 909 to 409 |ca -265 to 235| ca 4601 to 5101|ca 3553 - 4053 |ca 1750 - 2350 |ca 1241 - 1741 Elven Peace |552 - 698 |36 - 182CY |680 - 826 OR |5551 - 5697 SD |4498 - 4644 OC |2695 - 2841 BH |2186 - 2332 FT Petty Wars |950 - 1005 |568 - 583CY |1213 - 1228 OR |6083 - 6098 SD |5030 - 5045 OC |3228 - 3243 BH |2718 - 2733 FT God War |1008 - 1020 |586 - 598CY |1230 - 1242 OR |6101- 6113 SD |5048 - 5060 OC |3245 - 3257 BH |2736 - 2748 FT (GH Chainmail Articles) |1013 |591CY |1235 OR |6106 SD |5053 OC |3250 BH |2741 FT Current Year/ Present |1024 |602 CY |1246 OR |6117 SD |5064 OC |3261 BH |2752 FT
The time span for the God War is calculated at a known beginning of 586CY, and since we really don't know an end date, I gave it an arbitrary ending of the same as the end of the Livign Greyhawk Campaign. But, if one wanted the God War to be continuing, it certainly could be. But, I ended it in my campaign, because I had Stratis (or another incarnation of him) return to Oerth.
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Re: [Chainmail] Why is The Southlands all desert?

Post by Big Mac » Sun Mar 18, 2012 7:52 pm

Icarus wrote:Well, the way I look at it, the Chainmail map of the Sundered empire is sort of an in-game map, depicted as most of the PCs and NPCs would understand it. The description of the areas specifically say that there are s'posed to be inhabitable areas south of the desert, but, the map doesn't really reflect that. They just sort of made the whole thing seem to appear to be the desert. Which, to most people of the Sundered Empire, would be something close to the truth. (Oh, by the way, y'all are correct in that "Sundered Empire" refers to the elven nation of Ravilla that was shattered into small remnants, but once comprised the entire region. When the God War begins, Ravilla is a tiny fragment of what it once was.) Drazen's Horde is known to have come out of the Southlands and crossed the Blasted Desert and attacked into the areas controlled by Ravilla ( in 1008, or 586CY).
Dragon Magazine #292 wrote:The Blasted Desert was the limit of Ravilla's expansion in the south. The Oligarchs were aware of habitable regions beyond the desert, but they were deemed unimportant. Even Trigorian, the elven warlord par excellence, scrapped an expedition across the Blasted Desert when it became clear that taking an army through such terrain would be a logistical nightmare. A few scouts did make the trek, and what they reported simply confirmed and strengthened the Oligarchs' stance.
The region below the Blasted Desert, known in Ravilla simply as "the Southlands," was found teeming with savage humanoids such as orcs, hobgoblins, and bugbears. While the sheer number of warlike brutes was of some concern, the scouts reported that internecine fighting was rampant in the region. Tribe fought tribe so often that the whole area was in a perpetual state of war. Only the goblinoids' legendary rate of reproduction kept the region from becoming depopulated by constant warfare.
I've got to say that comparing the top and bottom of the Chainmail map does make The Southlands look a bit "bland". There should be some stuff there.

The western side of The Southlands looks like fairly habitable land, as does the area just to the west of the mountains at the east side of The Southlands. Maybe they could be places for Drazen's Horde to have been before they travelled across the Blasted Desert.
Icarus wrote:One of the interesting things about the Dark Moon Chronicles map above is that it's from the MMORPG video game that was in playtesting, but as I understand it, never really went anywhere. Strangely, the video game doesn't really match the descriptions of the locations of the countries, and where they are in relation to each other, according to Blue Bomber, on the forementioned Canonfire thread. I kind of overlap the Sundered Empire map with the Dragon Annual map, and place the DMC names of the countries in the original locations from the Dragon Annual map. ... it's still in progress to work it all out.
Very interesting approach. Both maps have far less detail than the Flanaess and additional information would probably make either setting work better. Would you actually merge Chainmail and DMC into a single setting? Or would you just "panel beat" DMC until it fits into the Chainmail shape, but discard most of the Chainmail stuff?
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Re: [Chainmail] Why is The Southlands all desert?

Post by Icarus » Sun Mar 25, 2012 7:00 am

Big Mac wrote:I've got to say that comparing the top and bottom of the Chainmail map does make The Southlands look a bit "bland". There should be some stuff there. ...
The western side of The Southlands looks like fairly habitable land, as does the area just to the west of the mountains at the east side of The Southlands. Maybe they could be places for Drazen's Horde to have been before they travelled across the Blasted Desert. ...
Very interesting approach. Both maps have far less detail than the Flanaess and additional information would probably make either setting work better. Would you actually merge Chainmail and DMC into a single setting? Or would you just "panel beat" DMC until it fits into the Chainmail shape, but discard most of the Chainmail stuff?
I would agree that Drazen's Horde could come from one of those areas.
Drazen's Horde and the Empire of Lynn are really the only two parts that don't quite line up. They overlap just a tiny bit in the regions of the maps. In the overlay version where I have several maps comprising Western Oerik, I basically assume that since the '96 Annual Map mostly aligns with both Chainmal/Sundered Empire and Dark Moon Chronicles, I would say that they shoudl be merged into one setting. According to Gygax, Froideval's setting was on Oerth, and it seems to have been canonized in the '96 Annual article (at least the names of the regions were). So, to me, the best resources are those two disparate settings, and they should be integrated whenever possible. As it turns out, the DMC map above is completely inaccurate as to the geography of the place, or so it seems from the sources I've read. So, there's not much panel-beating to be done, I just place the stuff within the original context of the map and it seems to work reasonably well. I still haven't decided what to do with the Darzen's Horde/Lynn overlap, but BlueBomber has discussed it over on Canonfire on that Canonfire thread.
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Re: [Chainmail] Why is The Southlands all desert?

Post by Big Mac » Tue Apr 10, 2012 12:37 am

Icarus wrote:I still haven't decided what to do with the Darzen's Horde/Lynn overlap, but BlueBomber has discussed it over on Canonfire on that Canonfire thread.
Another way to deal with the two settings (and it isn't necessarily the best way, but might be worth considering) is that one of them could be shunted into the past and be that area as it used to be. If you could make that work, then anything that clashes could be "gone" and anything that works could be "a thing that has been there for hundreds of years".

I'm not sure how viable that would be or if DMC would work better as Chainmail's history than Chainmail would work as DMC's history. :?
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Re: [Chainmail] Why is The Southlands all desert?

Post by BlackBat242 » Tue Apr 10, 2012 4:56 am

Icarus wrote: I would agree that Drazen's Horde could come from one of those areas.
Drazen's Horde and the Empire of Lynn are really the only two parts that don't quite line up. They overlap just a tiny bit in the regions of the maps.
.....
I still haven't decided what to do with the Darzen's Horde/Lynn overlap, but BlueBomber has discussed it over on Canonfire on that Canonfire thread.
You could always have them nomads...with different migration times.

That way one is out of the "overlap" area before the other arrives... and vice-versa.
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Re: [Chainmail] Why is The Southlands all desert?

Post by Big Mac » Sun Apr 15, 2012 10:27 am

BlackBat242 wrote:You could always have them nomads...with different migration times.

That way one is out of the "overlap" area before the other arrives... and vice-versa.
That is a good idea. I wonder how well it could fit with the canon of both product lines. :?

If they were both nomadic, they would probably know of the existence of each-other. I don't know how well they could get along, but maybe their could even be a long-standing dispute between the two groups (with the overlap territory being disputed territory that they both control at different times and which is a no-mans land at other times).

Darzen's Horde seem to be an aggressive lot, even raising long-dead bodies to serve as an army. Maybe they might have attempted to invade the Empire of Lynn. Perhaps their agression towards other Chaimail factions is an attempt to destroy the area's weaker nations, so that they can build up an unstoppable undead army and wipe Lynn off of the map.
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Re: [Chainmail] Why is The Southlands all desert?

Post by Greyhawk Grognard » Fri Apr 20, 2012 1:49 am

Icarus wrote:Drazen's Horde and the Empire of Lynn are really the only two parts that don't quite line up.
Not quite. What is labeled on the DA #1 map as "The Kingdoms of the Marches" takes up pretty much most of what is Ravilla on the Sundered Empire map. As it happens, I just posted on my blog about that very subject: http://greyhawkgrognard.blogspot.com/20 ... puted.html. My conclusion is that shifting the Kingdoms of the Marches southward just a tad gives us a terrific excuse to fill up the center portion of the map with all manner of interesting stuff. And what the Sundered Empire map calls "The Free States" is actually a group of city-states, which makes the location of Lynn (Lhynn) there perfect.

Anyway, you can read the whole thing at the link above.

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Re: [Chainmail] Why is The Southlands all desert?

Post by Greyhawk Grognard » Fri Apr 20, 2012 1:57 am

Cthulhudrew wrote:
Big Mac wrote:I'm not exactly sure where the term Sundered Empire came from in relation to the Chainmail stuff; as near as I can recall without rechecking the source material, there were actually several Empires/Kingdoms/Nations in the region. I expect the Sundering is more in reference to the chaos that transpired among the nations with the death of the god Stratis. Not sure why there's only a singular Empire referenced, though. Then again, it could be referring to the Empire of Ravilla that it refers to, although I can't think offhand of why it might be considered Sundered.
That is exactly what the term "Sundered Empire" refers to. The Dragon Empire of Ravilla had, in times past, controlled the entire region now controlled by the various factions described in the Chainmail material. Because it is no longer whole, it is now "sundered". Hence the name.

As far as why the whole of the Southlands is desert, the easiest answer is that it isn't. If you apply the information in the Dragon Annual #1 map, the whole southern coast of what is labeled The Southlands in the Chainmail map is actually covered with "primeval forest" (the Barbarian Seameast). It's best not to take the Chainmail map too literally beyond the boundaries of the area controlled by the various factions; otherwise most of the Celestial Imperium is solid forest from one end to the other, and that makes little sense. That said, we can still have broad swathes of desert in the Southlands, with just the fringes given up to more temperate terrain, and not do too much violence to the spirit of the Chainmail map which is, after all, intended to spotlight the Sundered Empire.

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Re: [Chainmail] Why is The Southlands all desert?

Post by Cthulhudrew » Fri Apr 20, 2012 7:30 pm

Hey Greyhawk-Grognard-

Thanks for the clarification in re: Ravilla (I hadn't realized it controlled the whole region at one point), and the link as well. I'll be sure and read through it more thoroughly when I have the time, but from what I can see, it looks pretty interesting thus far.
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Re: [Chainmail] Why is The Southlands all desert?

Post by Big Mac » Wed Apr 25, 2012 8:04 pm

Greyhawk Grognard wrote:Anyway, you can read the whole thing at the link above.
Great research you have here.
Greyhawk Grognard wrote:
Cthulhudrew wrote:
Big Mac wrote:I'm not exactly sure where the term Sundered Empire came from in relation to the Chainmail stuff; as near as I can recall without rechecking the source material, there were actually several Empires/Kingdoms/Nations in the region. I expect the Sundering is more in reference to the chaos that transpired among the nations with the death of the god Stratis. Not sure why there's only a singular Empire referenced, though. Then again, it could be referring to the Empire of Ravilla that it refers to, although I can't think offhand of why it might be considered Sundered.
That is exactly what the term "Sundered Empire" refers to. The Dragon Empire of Ravilla had, in times past, controlled the entire region now controlled by the various factions described in the Chainmail material. Because it is no longer whole, it is now "sundered". Hence the name.
Thanks for the clarification. I'm still getting to grips with The Sundered Empire (which is a much better name than Chainmail) and am starting to wish that the RPGA had been asked to do a "Living Chainmail" wargame to carry on the story of this region.
Greyhawk Grognard wrote:As far as why the whole of the Southlands is desert, the easiest answer is that it isn't. If you apply the information in the Dragon Annual #1 map, the whole southern coast of what is labeled The Southlands in the Chainmail map is actually covered with "primeval forest" (the Barbarian Seameast). It's best not to take the Chainmail map too literally beyond the boundaries of the area controlled by the various factions; otherwise most of the Celestial Imperium is solid forest from one end to the other, and that makes little sense. That said, we can still have broad swathes of desert in the Southlands, with just the fringes given up to more temperate terrain, and not do too much violence to the spirit of the Chainmail map which is, after all, intended to spotlight the Sundered Empire.
I guess that (using the same logic you applied to a players map maybe having mistakes on your blog) the Chainmail version of The Southlands could be a mistaken perception of a group of nations that have too many local problems to worry about what exactly is beyond a desert and are happy to blank out the entire area.

I would love to see a fan netbook carry on with the sort of logic you used in your blog and find a way to fit everything onto the one map (with the least number of changes to the canon of each source).
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Re: [Chainmail] Why is The Southlands all desert?

Post by Greyhawk Grognard » Thu May 17, 2012 7:41 pm

Big Mac wrote:I would love to see a fan netbook carry on with the sort of logic you used in your blog and find a way to fit everything onto the one map (with the least number of changes to the canon of each source).
Have you looked at the "Mapping Beyond The Flanaess" series on my blog? I think it might just fit what you're looking for. I'm doing Darlene-style maps of western Oerik that incorporate the material from the published Greyhawk sources, Chainmail/Sundered Empire, and the Chroniques de la Lune Noire:

http://greyhawkgrognard.blogspot.com/se ... artography

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Re: [Chainmail] Why is The Southlands all desert?

Post by Big Mac » Sat May 19, 2012 2:10 pm

Greyhawk Grognard wrote:
Big Mac wrote:I would love to see a fan netbook carry on with the sort of logic you used in your blog and find a way to fit everything onto the one map (with the least number of changes to the canon of each source).
Have you looked at the "Mapping Beyond The Flanaess" series on my blog? I think it might just fit what you're looking for. I'm doing Darlene-style maps of western Oerik that incorporate the material from the published Greyhawk sources, Chainmail/Sundered Empire, and the Chroniques de la Lune Noire:

http://greyhawkgrognard.blogspot.com/se ... artography
Thanks Joe.

I didn't know about your blog when I started this, but saw it very very recently and the Mapping Beyond the Flanaess series certainly seems to be adding the sort of things that players need to start filling this area out.

I wish I had managed to learn some French at school, as know that most of Chroniques de la Lune Noire has not been translated. I might start with the English stuff (if it isn't stupidly expensive) and then see what Google Translate can do for the first non-English book.

I think that a netbook that could merge Chainmail, Sundered Empire and Chroniques de la Lune Noire together (maybe in the style of the Living Greyhawk Gazetter) would be an awesome contribution to Greyhawk fandom.

EDIT: I didn't "follow" your blog before, but I've found out how to get the dashboard to let me follow a blog that doesn't have the button on it and that should help me keep up.
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Re: [Chainmail] Why is The Southlands all desert?

Post by Havard » Sat May 19, 2012 2:53 pm

Greyhawk Grognard wrote: Have you looked at the "Mapping Beyond The Flanaess" series on my blog? I think it might just fit what you're looking for. I'm doing Darlene-style maps of western Oerik that incorporate the material from the published Greyhawk sources, Chainmail/Sundered Empire, and the Chroniques de la Lune Noire:

http://greyhawkgrognard.blogspot.com/se ... artography
That is really impressive work Joe! :)

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Re: [Chainmail] Why is The Southlands all desert?

Post by ripvanwormer » Thu Jan 03, 2013 5:52 am

I returned to this thread to link to this fanon on the world of Oerth. Totally noncanon, but interesting in the way the author chooses to flesh out regions outside of the Flanaess.

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Re: [Chainmail] Why is The Southlands all desert?

Post by Knightfall » Fri Oct 23, 2015 5:41 am

ripvanwormer wrote:I don't think it's explained, no. Note that Duicarthan made a revised map of Oerth in which the desert was substantially smaller (but still probably bigger than the Flanaess).
Hmm, I might have found my next, non-Kulan, Hexographer map project. :idea:
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Re: [Chainmail] Why is The Southlands all desert?

Post by Knightfall » Mon Oct 26, 2015 3:47 pm

For those on Facebook, see here: [link]. Once I have the map done to a point I'm happy with, I'll post it on my Otherworlds blog.
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