Let's Map Mystara!

A directory of geographical maps for the world of Mystara.

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Thorf
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Re: Let's Map Mystara!

Post by Thorf » Sat Jun 30, 2018 1:42 am

Havard wrote:
Fri Jun 29, 2018 3:31 pm
I didn't realize the term Known World was first being used so late.
It's rather surprising, isn't it? In fact it turns out that the term was first used in print in 1984, but uncapitalised, in XSOLO. After that, I haven't finished reviewing 1985, but I know it appeared as the title of the world map in the Master Set. It was only at some point after that that it started to be used as the general name for the setting — and as you mentioned, GAZ1 still has The D&D Game World.

I find this very interesting, because it completely disproves the idea that early on Mystara was known as the Known World. In fact it's more like the (mid to late?) GAZ era that used that name.

I get that it's useful to people who prefer the earlier products to the later products to be able to draw a distinction, but Known World/Mystara is not a historically accurate way to distinguish them.

Further complicating the matter is the fact that although Known World appeared (first?) on the Master Set world map, it later came to mean just the area shown on X1's map. I'm looking forward to tracking the evolution of this term over the course of this project.
The Continent - X1 Isle of Dread Blue Cover (1980*) – I thought X1 was published in 1981, but my blue cover version states (c)1980...
I believe that it was published in late (December?) 1980, and released in January 1981. But this is from reading sites such as The Acaeum. (I was only three at the time so I can't say I have first hand knowledge! ;) )
According to this article, Lawrence Schick and Tom Moldvay did indeed use the name Known World when referring to their original home campaign played in Akron, Ohio:
Lawrence Schick wrote:We dubbed this setting the “Known World,” to imply there was more out there yet to be discovered, because we didn’t want to paint ourselves into a corner. It was our intention to use the Known World in ongoing open-ended campaigns run by multiple DMs, in which player characters could go back and forth from one DM’s game to another. Moldvay and I were already running our own campaigns this way, and we hoped to bring other DMs on board as well, so we’d all be playing in the same giant sandbox.
It should be noted that the name Known World is not noted on any of the documents Schick provided so theoretically he could be misremembering whether this name was something they added originally or after it had been seen in print. I lean towards trusting Schick, but it is curious that it was not used in print untill long after Moldvay had left OD&D.
This posed a quandary for me, too, in this project. I agree that we should trust Lawrence Schick at his word — he certainly deserves our respect, and there's no real reason to doubt him.

However... As you said, there's no mention of it in his documents, and the fact that the term doesn't appear in print until 1985 is rather puzzling. Were Tom Moldvay and Lawrence Schick still at TSR at that point?

My conclusion is that either the world was being referred to as the Known World (or possibly just the known world) behind the scenes from the start, or it was later "named" the Known World coincidentally.

Now I rather doubt the first option, because it seems to me that they didn't have much cohesion at that point, and the idea of a game world was barely even established — especially in the case of B/X and BECMI D&D. Most of all, the authors kept on changing, and there was very little cohesion from one book to the next.

Which leaves the second option. It's possible Frank Mentzer is the man responsible for the term, and it's also possible he had heard it from Lawrence Schick. Or perhaps he came up with it on his own, which would not be an entirely unexpected development given the generic nature of the "name".

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Re: Let's Map Mystara!

Post by Hugin » Wed Oct 03, 2018 11:32 pm

Any further progress on this awesome journey?

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Re: Let's Map Mystara!

Post by Thorf » Thu Oct 04, 2018 12:52 am

You're the second person this week to ask me, Sheldon. :)

I got a bit stuck in early summer trying to tackle the world map. Then I was traveling over the summer, so I'm just starting to get back stuck into this project again now. As always, the time away seems to have helped, and I think I've just about broken through the problem.

At the heart of the issue is the rotation of Brun; it was rotated around 2° on the world map compared with previous continental maps. In my previous projects I've pasted the unrotated Brun into the world map, skipping the issue altogether. But with this project I'm attempting to take it as written, allowing the world map to take precedence.

This means adding a rotation to all previous maps - which is to say changing their projection, not physically rotating the actual maps. The trick here is to do it without losing all the GIS tagging I've already done, which in this project is quite substantial, since I've been tagging every element of every map with its source. In the future, this will allow me to check where each feature on a map originated.

More on all this soon.

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Re: Let's Map Mystara!

Post by Hugin » Thu Oct 04, 2018 3:28 am

Great news, Thorf!

I know what it's like - getting bogged down with an "issue" while working on project. But then taking some away just does wonders for you when you get back at it.

Cheers! Looking forward to what you come up with!

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Re: Let's Map Mystara!

Post by Thorf » Sat Oct 20, 2018 1:22 am

I made two very long and rather technical posts on Facebook recently. I'm going to crosspost them here too for future reference.

Post 1 (8th October 2018):

I got stuck on a technical issue a few months ago, and my Let's Map Mystara project has been mostly stalled since then. During this off-time I thought through the problem again and again, and now I've come back to the project. Today I think I've managed to break through it.

The issue is how to deal with the rotation needed to reconcile Companion Set Brun with the Master Set world map. It has been brought up in this group quite a few times before, and anyone who has ever tried to line up these two maps will be familiar with it.

I've found that the best fit involves a 2.68º rotation of the Companion Set map. You can see the results in the image here. It doesn't fit perfectly, and it's impossible to make everything line up, so I've gone with a compromise position that leaves nothing totally out of sync.

You may be wondering at this point what my technical issue was, because none of this is new.

The difference is that this time I'm viewing both sources as equal, whereas in the past I simply deleted Master Set Brun and replaced it with Companion Set Brun. Taking both sources as accurate means accepting the rotation — which in turn means that all existing maps of Brun inherently include that rotation.

This is pretty extreme, and thus far only Lance Duncan has attempted it. There are lots of reasons for this, but it can be summed up just by saying it's too difficult and too complicated to work with — unless, that is, you can make use of GIS software.

Previously I dismissed the idea of working with the rotation because I thought it would invalidate existing maps. But lately I've realised this doesn't have to be the case; the only thing you really need to accept is that the direction of north is slightly different from where you thought it was — but that's the case anyway, due to Mystara's use of the Mollweide projection.

Moreover, there's actually no reason that we'd have to redo all the official maps — especially those that show large scale "zoomed in" areas. Many people assume that all the hex maps should line up, but in fact this needn't be the case. Yes, it has helped us to place maps together, but that consideration is no longer important when everything is georeferenced.

But the real tipping point for me was Norwold, and the realisation that it, too, needed to be rotated to fit with other Brun maps. That came as somewhat of a revelation to me, persuading me to give the Master Set map another chance.

So what on earth was my technical issue?

I started Let's Map Mystara using my Lining Up Mystara project's geoencoding. Now that I've decided to incorporate the Master Set map's position and rotation of Brun, I need to revise this. Specifically, I need to create an altered projection that includes the 2.68º rotation, and then retroactively apply that to all the previous Let's Map Mystara maps. My problem was how to do this without discarding all the GIS info (tagging of names and sources for every map element) I'd already entered into the maps.

The solution: georeference the Master Set world map. Paste in the Companion Set coastlines and rotate them 2.68º, then line them up with Master Set Brun. (This is what the image here shows.) Next, copy this and apply a -2.68º rotation; this means we now have both versions of Brun lined up and in the more familiar Companion Set rotation — but with the correct geoencoding. Finally, adjust the page position of this new projection to exactly match the previous projection, and then move all of the elements between the two. (It's a bit technical, but this last part involves creating new layers and moving elements between layers, NOT dragging layers between projections.)

I've now got this done for the most complicated map, the 24 mile per hex map of Brun. The other scales will follow, and thankfully there are only a few other maps to deal with up to the end of 1984.

Apologies for the super long post. The details of all this seem a bit hard to follow, but hopefully the results will speak for themselves in the near future.

Back to work on 1985's maps!

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Re: Let's Map Mystara!

Post by Thorf » Sat Oct 20, 2018 1:22 am

Post 2 (20th October 2018):

I'm making progress on 1985's maps once again. 😁

Now I find myself wondering: since I've cracked the rotation problem and redefined the world's georeferencing — and now have to adapt existing maps to fit that georeferencing anyway — should I also "fix" the continents' positioning on the globe?

Here's what I mean by this: in my projects so far, the extreme northern tip of Brun (Hyborea's northeastern peninsula) is clipped, falling outside the border of the map. This was done to create more space, and to have Thyatis as far north as possible. And of course in Mystara terms this land falls into the polar opening, so it's not lost.

Recent developments have prompted me to reconsider this situation. Wouldn't it be better to fit the whole map onto the globe without clipping past 90º N?

In the context of Mystara 1985, this clipping seems rather silly, because at that stage the Hollow World hadn't even been conceived.

Moreover, Thyatis is already pretty far south (28º N) in my latest model. And we have theorised that the climate of Mystara is not quite the same as that of modern Earth anyway, so this seems less of a problem.

Then there's the fact that the world dimensions are now fixed, so that regardless of placing on the world map hexes all read at their officially marked scales and areas. (How accurate these measurements are is another topic entirely...)

Finally, we have the map of Jurassic Earth for reference in placing the continents on the world map. There is no perfect fit here, but the fit I've adopted in my latest model is not necessarily the best one possible.

So with all this in mind, I'm going to continue to use Let's Map Mystara as an experiment to see if I can develop a more satisfactory placement of the continents. For a start, I will shift everything a little further south so that no land is clipped. It looks like this will result in Thyatis being at about 25º N rather than 28º. Initial tests seem to indicate that Davania and the equator will not move much further south, perhaps due to the shift from Companion Set Brun to Master Set (rotated) Brun.

There are undoubtedly problems waiting to be tackled here. Uppermost in my mind is the Isle of Dawn, and the problem of fitting all the islands between Brun and Davania. Simply put, I'm not sure that there's enough space for everything as it was mapped, because the Isle of Dawn seems to have been enlarged.

But I'll deal with these as we come to them, in the context of the project.

Hopefully, we'll end up with a cohesive world model that can be adopted into the Atlas. Failing that, we'll at least have snapshot maps for each year of Mystara's publication.

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Re: Let's Map Mystara!

Post by Hugin » Sat Oct 20, 2018 2:22 am

Great to see these posted and to be able to read about this project again.

Is there any place other than facebook that contain the map images?

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Re: Let's Map Mystara!

Post by Thorf » Sat Oct 20, 2018 2:57 am

Hugin wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 2:22 am
Is there any place other than facebook that contain the map images?
I'm afraid not, but it's just a very simple overlay of Companion and Master Set Brun.

Perhaps I should write an article summing up these developments once I've finished working on the 1985 Master Set map. It would be useful to have my current thoughts and reasoning recorded for future reference.

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Re: Let's Map Mystara!

Post by Hugin » Sat Oct 20, 2018 2:37 pm

Absolutely!

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Re: Let's Map Mystara!

Post by Carillion » Sun Oct 21, 2018 1:57 pm

Hello Thorf,

Welcome back! I agree with Hugin that it's good to see you working on this project again.
The issue is how to deal with the rotation needed to reconcile Companion Set Brun with the Master Set world map. It has been brought up in this group quite a few times before, and anyone who has ever tried to line up these two maps will be familiar with it.

I've found that the best fit involves a 2.68º rotation of the Companion Set map. You can see the results in the image here. It doesn't fit perfectly, and it's impossible to make everything line up, so I've gone with a compromise position that leaves nothing totally out of sync.
Isn't it possible that the 2.68 degree rotation on the Master set map is just a replication error? I can't think of any logical reason why the game designers would choose to make this small change from the Companion set map. I'm also conscious that back in 1985, they were drawing all of the maps by hand, so such a small discrepancy would almost have been inevitable.

I know Frank Mentzer still frequents this board occasionally, so maybe you could ask him whether any changes were intentional. If not, it would seem reasonable to disregard those changes, as opposed to trying to rotate all of the maps which are based on the Companion set map by 2.68 degrees. It would make matters a lot more straightforward as well!

Regards,

Carillion

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Re: Let's Map Mystara!

Post by Thorf » Mon Oct 22, 2018 5:12 am

My ever-evolving understanding of this is currently as follows: the best fit between the maps inevitably requires rotation of one of the maps to match the other. Rotating the whole world map is not an option, as the shape of the world is fixed with reference to the Jurassic Earth map.

Conclusion: the Companion map must be rotated.

Up until now, we've been ignoring this rotation and instead overwriting Companion Set Brun, discarding Master Set Brun. But this is messy and results in all sorts of problems. It's also completely unnecessary: why not just accept the rotation as is?

This is my current position: we can just accept the rotation as is.

What does this mean?

North isn't straight up on most maps - but that was already the case anyway, given that all the maps use the Mollweide Projection.

Latitude lines don't go straight across the page from left to right. This is perhaps more surprising, but again it's a minor thing on most maps.

Perhaps most of all, it doesn't mean we need to redo or discard all existing maps; quite the opposite. What it does affect is maps covering large areas of the world in one go, but in fact this is a tiny minority of all Mystara's maps - most of which were based on the Master Set map anyway. These should in fact now line up better.

In conclusion: I've come to view this rotation issue as a technical thing rather than a problem to be solved. It's a feature, not a bug, and we can embrace it as such. What effect it has on post-1985 maps is something I will explore as the project goes on.

By the way, have you seen my treatment of Norwold in the 1984 article? It also involves a rotation. For that matter, the Savage Coast also requires a rotation, and in fact I'm coming to think it's Mystara's biggest problem map of all. I haven't tackled it yet, but preliminary tests of X9's map indicate that it was likely misaligned, rotated, and worst of all squashed slightly.

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