Among the three maps in the Wrath of the Righteous Poster Map Folio is a player-oriented, illustrated map of the Abyss. It is a thing of beauty and I think Ben Wootten really outdid himself with this map. Anyone who's picked up the last few Poster Map Folios have undoubtedly seen Ben's illustrated maps for the Shackles, Varisia, and Irrisen, but this one goes above and beyond.
So, how do you map a nearly infinite plane?
I was eager to see this thing happen, but at the onset I was a bit perplexed as to the best approach. Many planar maps look more like diagrams, and I knew I didn't want to go that route. The chaotic nature of the Abyss lends itself to further complications, as some of the 40+ realms have tight relationships to one another and thus need to be physically near each other—some realms are described as being above, below, or adjacent to others. The first thing I did was to see if we could actually fit all the realms on a single page and have the whole thing actually do justice to the illustrations. If they would be too tiny to even see clearly there wouldn't be a strong reason to do the map.
I went home that night and started plotting out the relations of each of the realms and the size they'd be represented as on the map. I generated a basic shape and size, and then blocked off a sheet of paper to show their spatial relations to each other. I came back the next day with a sheet of paper in hand marked all over with weird, numbered shapes. I had to explain my madness a bit, so I pointed out which shape was which realm and why they were where they were. I sensed some reluctance about this ambitious plan to map the Abyss, so James and I sat down in his office and tinkered with and sketched out a few alternate ways to map the Abyss. (One thing James wanted to do was evoke the feeling of a vast pit, so I rolled up the sketch map into a cone to bend space and time and form the flat Abyss into a pit. Ta-da!)
Once we all agreed on the sketch, I wrote up a one-sentence description of each of the realms and what kind of things might be in them, and then sent that document and my sketch to Ben to use as references. He immediately got the idea I was going for, and he started to work on drawing each of the realms and connecting them all together. It was especially nice that he was our guest at PaizoCon last year, because that meant I got time to talk to him about the map while he was working on it, and I could clarify any questions or concerns he might have had with it. During the process, it was great seeing sketches to update us on how the map was progressing, but it was a true delight to see the final product. I love maps, and helping map out the Abyss was a ton of fun. I'm not going to reveal the final image, you're just going to have to pick up Wrath of the Righteous Poster Map Folio to gaze into the Abyss yourself.