Mapping the Abyss

Thursday, January 30, 2014

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.

Developer

More Paizo Blog.

*Begins doing happy dance*

Being blind, this post has a bittersweet aspect to it. Hopefully, my fellow players have an adequate amount of descriptive mojo in them to do it justice.

Starfinder Superscriber

The real question is: will the poster map gaze back?

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Cosmo is probably gonna slip in selfies of him giving a Kubrick stare.

You continue to impress, sir.

 Contributor

Want. So very much want :)

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Todd Stewart wrote:
Want. So very much want :)

The Map Folio or the Cosmo selfie?

 Developer

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Valantrix1 wrote:
Being blind, this post has a bittersweet aspect to it. Hopefully, my fellow players have an adequate amount of descriptive mojo in them to do it justice.

You tell your fellow players that I demand that they describe each and every facet in lush detail! :) They have a few weeks to brush up their skills.

 Developer

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rknop wrote:
The real question is: will the poster map gaze back?

We here at Paizo are not responsible for any posters gazing back. Some may have a manufacturing erro... feature (yeessss, feature) that let's them do so.

 Contributing Artist

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Researching this piece was demanding but satisfying, and I did pretty good at interviewing for new field assistants and porters.

 Developer

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Thank you for your dangerous journey, Ben. I think it truly paid off.

Beautiful piece of work.

Can't wait to see it.

Ben's illustrated maps have been gorgeous! I am really looking forward to this map pack.

-Aaron

Starfinder Superscriber
Ben Wootten wrote:

Researching this piece was demanding but satisfying, and I did pretty good at interviewing for new field assistants and porters.

Not surprised. Practice makes perfect, after all.

Is the picture on the right still a relatively rough draft or is that close to the finished product the top part of the Abyssal map will look like?

 Developer

Drock11 wrote:
Is the picture on the right still a relatively rough draft or is that close to the finished product the top part of the Abyssal map will look like?

Those images are sketches. The final poster map is certainly more refined and is in color.

And it's awesome!

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This idea kind of reminds me of the old Planescape map of the abyss. I loved that, and even though I'm not running WotR (or even have all the current ones out), I plan on getting this just because I LOVE awesome supernatural maps. (My current game area has the Giant Golarion map, a map of Ustalav, a map of The Isle of Dread, a Map of Westeros, and a map of White Wolf's Umbra. I can't wait to add this to those...)