As a GM, it’s nearly impossible to get by without a few maps. Sure, you can come up with a village on the fly, or maybe a 5-room dungeon, but cities are sometimes tough to design at the drop of a hat. Not only are there landscape concerns, but population, location, general disposition (friendly or un-), and so on.
Thankfully, there are many creative, artistic people who have created maps for us already. The Kingdoms of Kalamar: City Map Folio from Kenzer and Company provides more than 30 detailed maps to use for inspiration or in a Kingdoms of Kalamar campaign. From the full color map of Kalamar presenting the region where all these cities are located to the gorgeous interior black and white maps, there’s plenty here to salivate over from cartographers Craig Zipse and Clayton Van Sickle III.
What impressed me the most was the little details. Though the maps themselves have few labels or legends, anyone familiar with maps appearing in RPG adventures or books over the last 30+ years will instantly understand what they’re looking at… from rivers and roads to walls, buildings, forests and plains. Seeing how buildings flow around obstacles such as major roads, rivers, and docks can provide fodder for the most inquisitive player to explore…
And each map provides a small summary of pertinent details such as the city size, longitude and latitude, type of government, as well as major alignments, races, and size of the population. Also included is the name of the ruler (or rulers) of the city – such as with Baneta… “ruled by wizard Lakaran the Twisted under figurehead Lord B’Pareso.”
I did find it very difficult (impossible in some cases) to find a particular city on the full color map at the beginning of the book. It would have been nice to perhaps broken the bigger map into smaller regional maps to simplify finding them in the larger context. I also found it interesting that every single map in this collection has a wall or other defensive structure completely surrounding the heart of the population. Though I can see having walls around some portions of a city, I can’t imagine that building one around a population of 20,000 people can be cheap or easy to maintain.
That said, the Kingdoms of Kalamar: City Map Folio (first published in 2004) offers GMs tons of inspiration for their own campaigns and worlds. Who knows what dangers may lurk in these literally thousands of city streets ripe for the picking? Definitely worth the $6.99 as a PDF from DriveThruRPG.com.
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