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Friday, 8 February 2013

Here be dragons

Jamie and I have been thinking a lot about maps lately, what with six gamebooks being released in a few months in the Infinite IF series we're publishing with Osprey, and hopefully another couple of dozen after that if they prove popular. We began with the plan of just doing black and white maps, and those are fine for the print books but they're hardly going to excite on a tablet. (I prefer the term slate, but must bow to the common usage, I guess.) Colour will be needed. Lots of it.

Anyway, that's just by way of a preamble. Out of the blue, and completely unconnected with the Infinite IF books, Dragon Warriors player Lee Barklam got in touch to ask about our maps for Tetsubo, the Oriental version of Warhammer that never got published. Lee creates his maps using Profantasy's Campaign Cartographer. (And I might well have to look into that for the Infinite IF series, unless somebody knows of a really good fantasy map artist?) You can see Lee's maps of Legend and of Yamato, the setting for Tetsubo, over on his site The Cobwebbed Forest.

So, I mentioned to Lee that my own Legend campaign is currently set in Crossgate Manor, the sort of disaster-prone fief whose level of violent death would reduce Brother Cadfael to carrying a repeating crossbow. Crossgate is in western Ellesland close to the Albion/Cornumbria border (the red dot on the map). And lo! Lee came back only a day later with this rather super colour version based on my scrappy original sketch below.

Crossgate was the setting for "Silent Night", my Christmas special adventure in December 2011, and I'll run that on the blog next Christmas. In the meantime, here's an overview:

The manor of Crossgate is the largest of three (the others are Moyses and Garrow End) held by the Keppel family from Lord Maldupine, Marquess of Westring, whose lands stretch from the Cornumbrian border to the Vindar Hills.

The Keppel family are originally from central Albion, but took over these lands from the original lords almost a century ago. Many still refer to them as “the new lords”. The last of the old ruling family was Lord Duruth, who was killed 90 years ago.

The priest overseeing the local parishes of Moyses (where he’s based), Crossgate, Garrow End and Torstum (a village in the manor of Sir Eustace of Viridor, a neighbouring lord) is Father Lanarius, a cousin of the Keppel family. The rector of the small church at Crossgate is Father Gules.

Across the Stonestruck Lake is Redfern Abbey, with a mixed (segregated) community of about thirty monks and nuns.

Crossgate is a village of about three score households. The population of 300 comprises 10 manor servants, 40 freemen (including the priest and sexton), 200 villeins and 50 cottars. Notables of Crossgate are:

  • Sir Palagius Keppel, “Lord of Crossgate and Moyses”, 29 years old
  • Lady Perdita – Sir Pelagius’s wife, 19 years old
  • Lady Olivia – Sir Pelagius’s mother, 55 years old
  • Ryger – Sir Pelagius’s cousin, a squire, 25
  • Ogen – the steward, a little over-familiar in a daft-headed Luna Lovegood way
  • Hywel – a blind Cornumbrian bard, about 40
  • Rodwulf – the reeve (spokesman for the villeins) huge shock of red hair, burly, intelligent 
  • Father Gules – village priest


  1. Actually not "out of the blue": Out of the DW list. I recommended Lee to contact you as I know you're such a nice guy. :) I'm very happy he did it - not only has it lead to more of his beautiful maps being created, but the DW list is very active at the moment thanks to this. And now this post. Communication is a great thing, isn't it?

    1. Aha, that explains it. Good thinking, Joakim :)

      Tim Harford actually ran a great Crossgate manor scenario in the spring, but he's rather a busy fellow so there's little prospect of him ever getting time to write it up, unfortunately. I think I must wait till Christmas to post up "Silent Night" - just doesn't feel right at this time of year!

  2. Thanks for the cool update, Dave! It's always great to see more of the Lands of Legend - and especially the "hearth" of Albion...

  3. At the risk of stating the obvious, would you not consider Leo Hartas for the mapping? He was untouchable for maps 'back in the day'. I realise today's readers might want something a little different from their maps these days, but I imagine Leo's style has developed in the meantime as well?

    1. I think we will use Leo's original maps in the VR books, Mike. The new maps that Osprey has commissioned for the print editions look great, but they are greyscale and you can't ask people to read a book on a $500 tablet and then give them black & white artwork! Huge thanks to Leo for giving us permission to use those.

      And (even bigger news) the near-saintly Mikael Louys, head honcho of Megara, has given us permission to use their utterly gorgeous full colour map of Orb (by the talented Aude Pfister) for the reissued Way of the Tiger books. Pop over to Megara's site and you can see how awesome their art and maps are. I predict iPad sales will go up when those books go on sale :-)