Thursday, April 27, 2017

A Question of Scale

In my last post, in which I gushed over the Swords & Wizardry Legion Pack (SWLP), I nitpicked about the scale of the map provided on the back of the folder that comes with the pack. I still maintain that 50 miles per hex is WAY too big, especially if this packet is intended for use as an introduction to FRPGs. Now, as an experienced Referee, I might want to erase all the villages and towns and then focus in on one 50 mile hex to make it my own, but such an exercise makes the map provided rather useless.

While still in full-on Gamer ADD mode because of this gorgeous little package, I stumbled across this map via the internet:

This, I believe, comes from the Necromancer Games adventure Shades of Gray designed for 3e. Note two things:

  1. It depicts part of the map provided with the SWLP.
  2. According to the scale of this map the distance between Darnagal and Potter's Field is about 50 miles.
According to the map provided with SWLP, the distance between these two towns/villages is around 6 hexes or 300 miles. That translates into travel times of just less than a week on the older map to a travel time of over a month on the SWLP map.

To put this in context, I looked up my old stomping ground on Google Maps and planned a trip from the Boston Convention Center in downtown Boston to Fenway Park. This morning, the fastest route was 7.7 miles. If we did to Boston what Frog God Games has done to their world, that distance would now be 46.2 miles. A trip of about 17 minutes is ballooned to a trip of over an hour. At that distance, the Boston Red Sox really aren't in Boston anymore.

I have no issue with Frog God Games trying to make their world much bigger than what it has been is the past, but not only does it make the map provided in the SWLP useless, it also radically changes the material previously provided by Necromancer Games and Frog God Games. If I ever wanted to run Shades of Gray, for example, I would either have to ditch the map from the SWLP or re-write significant portions of the adventure to fit the new scale.

Or, as I mentioned in my previous post, I can just drop the '0' from the '50' and use the map as it was originally designed.


JDsivraj said...

I feel you, scale matters. A 50 mile hex is an area over 2,000 square miles. 5 such hexes would hold the entire tate I live in. Unless it's an empty howling wilderness villages wouldn't even be marked on such a map. Better to go with the 5 miles a hex.

Svafa said...

Your math here made me consider another possibility: what if the 50 mile hex was intended to be a 50 square mile hex? That would put the distance across one hex at around 7 miles, which matches up pretty well with the difference in the maps, and makes me wonder if that's not where the mistake was made.

FrDave said...

As awesome as this idea is, it doesn't reflect what Frog God Games says about their own world. I found this quote in a preview of Stoneheart Valley:

The Lost Lands starts with The Lone Goldfish map and grows from there. You’ll notice that there was no scale on The Lone Goldfish map, which is good because The Lost Lands are big...way bigger than the scale on the K6 map would indicate. We’ll still incorporate the Shades of Gray map into the final product, but it’s going to require some modification and scaling to make it fit.

Every Comment A Poem said...

the history of cartography is full of imperfections. so what?
you are the boss decide which is reality.

FrDave said...

Yes. Yes I am (at least in this case).