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[DSA] Mapping Aventuria

A character for every game is hosting the RPG Blog carnival for April. And the topic is Cartography. Which fits well because I had wanted to take a short look on the maps for The Dark Eye anyway. They were one of these things that drew a lot of people into the game, so much even that at one point the producers just started selling them in separate map packs, so people could put them together and create a giant map of the continent Aventuria. The only problem THEN was, where to put a 3 meter high, wonderfully detailed map of a fantasy continent. One way you might find here.

The whole things started a bit smaller though: the first map of the continent was standard hex map business, a smallish map with completely ridiculous measurements that have stayed with the game for the last 25 years.

Technically Aventuria is only 3000 miles long, and one mile is supposed to be 1 kilometre. Which makes the continent… very, very small… And grates on the suspension of disbelief many people have about it. How can a viking style culture keep being in a tech level from the early middle ages when at the same time, 300 km away a Italian/French-inspired culture is slowly moving into the Renaissance.

No, it does not make that much sense. It doesn’t have to either, it is a fantasy world after all, but sometimes the official canon just seems a bit odd. On the other hand the one time when both aforementioned cultures clashed the Viking culture got their asses handed. In the beginning I guess nobody expected this game to last for so damn long with such popularity. The first few modules created for the game were standard fantasy stuff with their plot taking place in a sorta medieval land without too many geographic references. The Black Boar had exactly four: the cities of Havena where the heroes came from, the city of Angbar where they travelled to, Gratenfels where they were, and an aside about the neighbouring barony of Wengenholm. All of these names were reasonable names for places, but there was no map for them. Then the extension set came out, bringing new monsters and traps, and for the first time a short description of the setting.

The easy way around the settings weird proportions is of course to just assume that 1 mile on the map indeed means a mile, which one might define as anything from 1 to 2 km in length, but some people don’t like that solution either as it conflicts with other parts of the world, namely the time armies in the setting are supposed to have marched to reach their destination.

Uhm, did I mention this game is a German game? I guess the obsession about minor details becomes a bit more understandable if you keep this in mind.

Interestingly enough the hexmap never was that popular with German players. For some reason they always preferred real maps instead of something hexed. I don’t think I ever even saw a piece of hexpaper anywhere in Germany, besides in Battletech supplements that is.

The part where cartography really becomes interesting are the maps that were drawn by Ina Kramer for the whole continent, those look a. awesome and b. professional and c. insanely detailed. At least c. is not really true as they are still giving a lot of space in between that just has been left off the map, nevertheless they do create the illusion of Aventurien as a real place.

And of course these maps are completely outgame, because no person in Aventuria could have a map as detailed as this. The continent is described largely unexplored, even in the newest supplements. (The joke of course is that thanks to thousands of avid players by now some parts of the setting have been described down to single milestones on the road. I mentioned the obsesession with detail?).

And yes, that map above shows the area Realms of Arkania II – Star Trail was set in, it was originally a DSA computer game.

Ah, by the way, for further exploration of the continent Aventuria Google Maps might be a good starting point. Yes, it works like Google Maps, just with a fantasy continent.


2 responses to “[DSA] Mapping Aventuria

  1. Pingback: A Month Of Awesome Maps – RPG Cartography Carnival « A character for every game

  2. nebs October 7, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    I just stumbled over this blog and as a German roleplayer, I am positively surprised that the Dark Eye finally gets some exposure outside of the German speaking world. It was originally meant to oocupy the German market while DnD was still getting popular in the US. This is a reason why everything seemed a bit rushed (They didn’t know how much time they had before DnD was exported to Europe), including the continent size, someone should’ve thought of that, but I guess if the history included a spell that increased the continent ins size some time down the line, people would find it even more ridiculous 😉

    Nowadays, it is very different from DnD, because it is a very low magic setting with very detailed world and the rules are more towards realism than in DnD (as realism goes in a world with dwarves, elves and magic I guess).

    Having played DnD (among other things) and enjoyed it, I currently enjoy The Dark Eye more and I would love it, if it actually got some success in the English speaking world.

    Anyhow, cool article. I like it. Keep up the good work



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