Quite a tour-de-force. I ejoyed reading this, as cartography is one of my favorite subjects, and this is a great rendition of the power of maps and map-making transcribed to fantasy. Just excellent!! And oh so complete. The cartogramancer's equipment list, the maps and spells, all the wonderful detail...
I love this and will incorporate it into the next (and probably every) campaign I run. Quite a sub. Even the comments are great (axle, Redgre, RGTraynor, infested-jerk, etc..)
Finally, I think Redgre's comment regarding the loss of "mystery" is an interesting one to consider (I hadn't until he posted that).
Go to Comment
Dozus, this is awesome.
I like this a lot, I think you could post it as is, but as for advice, I think some of the spells are a little redundant-the slave map, sibiling maps, signal charts all seem to be variations on the exact same power. But maybe writing it up this way is clearer than describing in general the powers a cartogramancer will have over the maps he or she creates. As trade items that adventures might equip themselves with while not themselves practing cartogramancy,slave maps and signal charts and the items that go with them are all useful descriptions.
I like the mount weazel concept, could a powerful enough cartogramancer use this to make islands at sea or streams or lakes in the desert? Could he put a forest over a road or a bridge over a river?
Another area of power you might explore are small scale maps. Could he/she make a map of door or gate to find the weak point? Could he make a blueprint of a puzzle box to find the traps? Could he use his maps like voodoo dolls, if he has a map of a person: there is plot idea the evil cartogramancer is kidnapping important people, drugging them, carefully mapping their body then sending them back in the world. If they fail to obey to he removes their eyes or cuts off circulation to their brain for awhile.
Can he use his power over maps to travel back in time, or at least age the map? Looking at an over grown jungle valley could he map the city that was there 400 years ago? Would this map include who lived where and what buidling were used for what?
Finally I can see having cartogramancer player as being challenege for game planning. You will have to have bunch of hand outs, you can forget the maze or traps you drew up...unless you really want to frustrate your PC by muting his powers so you can drop him in a pit or something.
But I think the idea is great, I had an order or map making clerics once, but they were no where as developed as this. Well done sir.
This is fantastic. I don't have enough praise for it, but I find it interesting, complete and inspiring, I going to vote for it as often as I can.
However, the "articles of note" section seemed to be poorly edited. I am not faulting you for this, it is no small task to get all the errors out of piece of prose. This is why "editor" and "proof reader" are still paying jobs. I hate it when I read one of my old posts and find errors. One of the greatest things I ever got from this website was detailed edit by Moonlake. I am not nearly as strong as she, but I have these notes
I don’t like the subheading “articles of note”, it is too vague, I know we want headings to be general but this is a little much. Famous Examples of Cartiomancy or , while less dramatic would be clearer.
structured conjured-should be “structure”
chose land-should read “chosen land”
and connecting the land to the map-should read “connected”
Abyss of Yaksha-I am unclear on what her goal was, was it to create a metaphysically isolated patch of land that exisisted only on the map (I like that idea) or to build a giant moat?
I hope this doesn't distract from praise for this piece. It really is wonderful, I wish I had written it.
I feel there should be a spell to instantly create a map, based on what the caster sees. Then, using this map which only applies for a short time (up to two hours, perhaps), the caster can then cast using the map. In this way, cartomancers aren't entirely left behind in combat.
I can picture a cartomancer drawing their own battlemap in the midst of a battle and using that to direct their magic :)
Alright, here are a few ideas from my own spells, stripping as much system-specific info as I can:
CONSTELLATION: The caster can elect to view the sky as if it were a celestial map, with lines drawn between the stars to join them into constellations and the names of the major stars written next to their positions. This spell also allows the caster to view the night sky from the point of view of a sky-watcher from another culture of which the mage has heard. In this case, the caster will see the stars arranged into the appropriate constellations and names for that culture.
DETECT CHANGES: The caster may determine what physical changes have been made to a place since he last saw it, even if the changes aren't visible to the naked eye. All changes that have occurred since the last casting of this spell on the subject by the same caster will be detected.
BATTLE MAP: This turns an ordinary map into a detailed three-dimensional topographical rendering of the area covered by the map. It includes the precise location of tactically or strategically important objects such hills, houses, bridges, fortifications, trench lines and formed bodies of friendly troops. Enemy troops or unknown formations are only shown on the map if they are visible to the caster when the spell is cast. Otherwise, they appear as a hazy, but still distinct shape, in their last known location.
VISION OF BATTLE: Observers may view a diorama of toy soldiers as if it were a real battle. When the spell is cast, the toy soldiers begin to move on their own. After a few minutes of careful observation, observers will see not animated toy soldiers on a tabletop but a real battle, with forces of the size of the actual battle depicted (regardless of the diorama pieces previously put into place). Time passes quickly; each battle is over in about 10 minutes, even if the viewers think that they have seen several days of combat.
The scale of the toy figures permitting, uniforms, faces, terrain, and equipment of the soldiers will change to produce maximum realism, including terrain effects, extreme weather conditions, smoke, fire, explosions and gruesome injuries. The caster can recreate a real battle or a hypothetical battle based on historical military organization and tactics. If he wishes, the caster can “change history” at any point in the battle to see how the outcome would be different; the caster can also freeze the battle in place at any stage, at which point the observers lapse back into real time until the diorama resumes. However, the depiction is only as good as the caster’s information; any flaws in the caster’s knowledge of the equipment, troop strength, capabilities or battle plans of all the forces involved are reflected in the presentation.
Excellent idea. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and will read again and add to if possible. I would love to add it to new and existing campaigns. I have two thoughts about content. First, is high level cartogramancy, would strip the world of all mystery. No more lost cities, no lost treasures, nothing hidden anymore. This could be cool on the short term but detrimental on the long term. Second, I think that following the rule of precidence, a cartogramancer would not be able to locate traps with his ability unless he had a working knowledge of said trap (what it takes to install/trigger/disarm it) and possibly a focus item. Cool idea. I've got to take it for a spin.
I really ejoyed reading this article, as cartography is one of my favorite subjects, and this is a great rendition of the power of maps and map-making transcribed to fantasy. Just excellent!! And indeed so complete. The cartogramancer's equipment list, the maps and spells, all the wonderful detail! You know, I could never imagine that it is possible to treat this issue so seriously, but now I am all for it)