As discussed during the introduction of this series, we will be supplying you with graphics and diagrams for each of the physical elements that we design; this will allow you to use these elements on:
- Battle grid maps, for example, a square or hexagon mat
- Local area maps, like a village or a town’s centre
- Extended local maps, like a village and its surrounding lands (fields, pasture, meadow, groves etc.)
- Wide area maps, like a county, duchy or kingdom.
In order to achieve uniformity we needed to set some rules to regulate the proportions; this will allow all the resources we build to be used coherently.
We started out by examining the proportions which several manufacturers use for their maps and for their miniatures. Our conclusion was that, in all honesty, the whole scape is a total mess – there is no real consistency between different resources. In order to build a system that makes sense, we drew a table of all the scales frequently used, and then assigned weight to each result based on the sales which each of them had – after all, we wanted to ensure that we keep most of you satisfied!
The best selling miniatures were the Dungeons and Dragons Minis followed by Reaper Minis – Bones and Pathfinder RPG. We have excluded Games Workshop from this list – although it leads the general sales in figurines, their products are intended for War Gaming, rather than for Role Playing set ups. Also, their figurines are classified as “Heroic” size, and their proportions are rather closer to bulky giants than to the average humanoids (we left their stats in the table below, so you can see how truly ma-hoooooo-sive they are). Instead, we will be focusing on what miniature manufacturers refer to as “True size”.
Based on an average man: 1830 mm = 6 feet (72 inches)
|Manufacturer||Scale||Mini Height||6ft at Scale|
Based on the information we collected, we finally decided to institute four different scale ratios for our mapping system, to represent different sizes of mapped area: Battle Mat, Local Area, Extended Local Area and Wide Area. The details of each of these can be found below.
Map Sizes and Scales
Battle Mat Scale (BMS)
BMS will be used for all architectural plans and all battle grid sizes. This will be useful for skirmishes which involve indoor fighting. It will also enable you to custom design that bespoke inn you’ve always dreamed of owning.
1:60 separated into 1in2 (1×1 inch square) representing 60×60 inches squares (5×5 feet). This also coincides with most miniature bases. All elements and items visible will be scaled at 1:60 in 450ppi so they look as close as possible to correct relative size.
Local Area Scale (LAS)
This will be the scale used for maps of a whole village or small town. It could also be useful for showing districts within a city. This size will allow you to print your village in high quality (450ppi) on A3 paper, which will:
a) be able to fit the whole of the small settlement
b) have discernible, characterful buildings, rather than just coloured rectangles
Considering the stipulations above, we’ve decided to go with a scale of 1800:1 in 450ppi (pixels per inch) which will render a structure of 50×25 feet (average house) as 150×75 pixels on screen, and will be around 100×50 mm when printed.
Extended Local Area Scale (ELAS)
The ELAS is intended for displaying the lands surrounding a village or town, or for showing a big city. At this scale, most of the buildings won’t be clearly recognisable. The intention of these maps is to show large areas and to understand the scale of the world your characters are inhabiting. We went through various iterations of draft maps, but in the end one of our main concerns was to be able to accommodate a large city on an A3 paper. In order for this, the maps should essentially be double the size of LAS scale, thus these maps should be 3200:1 in, once again 450ppi. This means that the average house will be ±75×30 pixels on screen and 50x25mm on paper. We’ll be getting you images of this as soon as our art-gremlins have finished their government-mandated holiday.
Wide Area Scale (WAS)
Wide Area maps are not intended to show individual buildings. If anything, the smallest discernible entity on a map of this scale should be a marker denoting a village or a place of interest. For WA scales the fractions become a bit silly, since 1 cm is equivalent to 100 kilometers or 1:100.000.000. These kind of scales will allow you to display a relatively small country like the United Kingdom on an A4 sheet of paper (210x270mm) with some detail. Considering that the UK is about 1/10th of Europe’s total area, it stands to reason that if we wanted to use the same piece of paper to display a region as big as Europe, the scale should be x15 of that, bringing us up to a whopping 1:1,500,000,000. We can extend this further, to the point that a campaign setting map the size of Earth could easily be at a scale of 1:40,000,000,000.
Needless to say, when mapping large areas there is a certain amount of balance necessary between details and area span. It’s fair to say that any country-size map should be at least 1:100,000,000 in 450ppi in order to show enough detail to visualise most, if not all, major settlements.
Shadows and Lighting
Maps have been represented differently throughout history. We wanted our maps to have character and depth. Without proper lighting maps can look two-dimensional and flat. For this reason we wanted the elements of our maps to have shadows, and also wanted to make sure that the items we create can be used across all our maps. Thus, we decided that all of our maps will use exactly the same rules for lighting.
In order to have the best shadows available, all light will be considered to come from the top right (North-East) at a theoretical 45 degrees (±10:30am) over the horizon. This would freeze all of our maps at late morning on an early spring day (Northern Hemisphere, GMT). Early spring is a conveniently beautiful time, since everything is green and the flowers are blooming, but you might also have the occasional snow to denote peaks or micro-climates.
When possible, we will try to provide two sets of graphics for the elements, both with and without shadows. When the elements are shadowed, we will also try to provide graphics facing in all eight directions (with the lighting coming from the same source).
Our goal by establishing this document is to make sure that our readers (yes, that means you) are happy with the sizes we have proposed, and that we create useful resources for you to use. So what do you think? Would you use this system? Are you looking forward to it? Do you just want to request a picture of our art-gremlins? Please leave your feedback in the comments below, or in Facebook, Twitter or the Reddit posts of this article. We look forward to your comments and ideas.
We are still working on style and technique, so any feedback on that (as well as the scales proposed) would be greatly appreciated.