Still Super Sick, No 'Rona

Just a note to say that Sandra and I got our covid test results and we are covid-free. I'm still sick as the proverbially sick dog, with a headache that stabs like a thousand rotating swords, but whatever crud it is, it ain't no 'rona.

So there is that. Hope you're staying safe out there.


Shadow River, Just in Case

 So, there's this: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/332451

I'll just quote my own copy because I'm feeling crud-tastic and the headache is blinding:

As I write this, I’m less than a day into some worrying symptoms: a fever, mainly, but also aches and a general feeling of having a crud. Since this is October of 2020, I worry that it might be early symptoms of COVID-19. I hope it isn’t. We had some melted-plastic fumes in the house for a couple of days, and while we managed to isolate the fumes in a single room and flush them out through the windows, I still got more than a snootful, and fumes like that can cause inflammation, and inflammation of that sort might explain these symptoms. But I don’t know. And as I’ve successfully collected nearly the Whole Set of complicating factors for Covid, including high blood pressure and diabetes and a truly horrific form of asthma, I’m worried that I may be in my final days.

But there’s this fantasy city map I’ve been drawing since December of 2015 … A detailed “cartographic portrait” of the city of Shadow River, which appears in my book, Uresia: Grave of Heaven. Every edition of Uresia has a map of Shadow River already, but it’s a simpler map showing only neighborhood boundaries and the major “cart-traffic legal” streets (those which maintain a width of 8 feet or more), and I’ve always wanted a more detailed, buildings-and-trees, footpaths-and-alleyways map, even though I knew such a map would require more hours of work than Uresia itself ever did. And it has.

As of this writing I’ve poured approximately 450 hours into the cartographic portrait, and the actual building-the-map part of building the map is complete: every building, tree, footpath and alleyway is there, along with a roughly equal amount of extramural territory, in comparable detail. It’s pretty damn fine, if I do say so.

But there’s work still, to be done: My goal is to produce a PDF of plates exploring the city in a useful way for printing and gaming-with: grid plates that can be assembled into the entire map, and specially-chosen plates zeroing in on each neighborhood and other useful cuts. I also have multiple poster versions in mind that still require development.

But, I might never get to make those. And I don’t want the map to just be lost, never available in high-resolution and vector versions to Uresia fans or fantasy-map enthusiasts just because I up and croaked. So I’ve assembled this Just in Case Version with the best files I can offer right now, and I hope you’ll agree it’s a very nice set. This version includes:

  • The Shadow River chapter from Uresia 2nd Edition: Just in case you’re new to Shadow River, here’s the 16-page chapter from the book, complete with the neighborhood-scale city map and more. Uresia’s kind of odd, but I like that about it.
  • Shadow River Interior Raster - 300dpi jp2k: A toned-and-textured poster map of the city interior (with extramural parts omitted), in 300dpi with max-quality JPEG2000 compression applied.
  • Shadow River Interior Raster - 600dpi HI-C: A toned-and-textured poster map of the city interior again, but this time at 600dpi with Hi-Compression applied.
  • Shadow River Vectors Complete Version A: My favorite screen-browsing version, this is the entire map, in resolution-independent vectors, with lots of color. It’s not very print-friendly but it’s nice.
  • Shadow River Vectors Complete Version B: Similar to the above, but designed for print-friendliness with white rooftops.
  • Shadow-River-Casual-Browse-Version-150dpi: An easy-to-navigate lower-resolution version of the Interior Raster. This is identical to the free version available on my DeviantArt account (where I’m called Temphis, after the Grand Duchy where Shadow River sits on the north coast).
  • Plate Mockup Barrack Gate Area: A 600dpi toned-and-textured mockup of a plate, this one focused on the Barrack Gate area, both extramural and intramural.
  • Plate Mockup West Gate Area: A 600dpi toned-and-textured plate mockup again, this time focused on the West Gate (the gate itself, both intramural and extramural, not the “West Gate” district as a whole).

Furthermore, if everything goes well and I do live to complete the book of plates (and history and commentary), that version will be a free upgrade at no extra charge, when (if) it happens. But if I don’t live to see November, well, this will be my last published item, and I’m proud to present it as it is.

Notes and Data

Within the gameworld, this map is a product of two Dwarvish cartographers, a husband-and-wife team who escaped slavery in Orgalt, and through a series of comic misadventures, became Royal Cartographers to the king of Rinden. It’s worth noting that they have never set foot in Shadow River, but still assured His Majesty a “depiction accurate to within One Long Stride.” Their plan of the city was a product of espionage, derived from dozens of earlier, often stolen, plans of the city’s details.

Maps this detailed are normally state secrets, but through another series of comic misadventures, a book of plates based on the Rinden map became a novelty item on sale in Shadow River itself, and it’s that book that I hope to create in the future, complete with advertisements and other fun stuff, along with additional material describing sundry relevant comic misadventures.

It’s beloved, the favorite map of the city by those who live there, even though finding inaccuracies has become a kind of pastime – or perhaps, because of it.

According to the last ducal census, the resident population of Shadow River is just over 40,000, but the real population (including both resident and non-resident sailors, merchants and other travelers taking temporary lodging) ranges from about 48,000 to more than 53,000 depending on time of year. There are more than 15,000 buildings inside the city walls, more than 10,000 of which are inhabited (containing one or more Dwelling Units) with an average population of 2.95 per Dwelling Unit, 4.72 per inhabited structure, and 5.24 per inhabited structure at the busiest times of year when including estimated additional non-resident population. The city’s rate of abandonment (buildings empty and in declining condition) is approximately 5%. The city covers 236-238 hectares, depending if you include the outer circuit (the city walls) in the coverage total. The map’s depiction of extramural land covers about 235 hectares (not including the open water of Shadow River or the bay).

There are 16 leagues of major streets in the city (cart legal) along with uncountable minor ways (but you’re welcome to try). The total length of the exterior circuit is approximately 6,526 long strides (about 6 kilometers).

The map scale for the cartographic portrait (and the mockup plates) is 1:3168. The full-sized map (including intramurals, extramurals and a white border) is 30 real-world inches per side, and the map represents an area half a league per side. Shadow River as depicted is roughly similar in scale to late-medieval Paris.

And I guess that’s it for now. I hope this finds you well and safe, with gaming to look forward to in the future.

I also hope I live through whatever is ailing me but, if not, at least I’m proud you got to see this map. There are a lot of campaign memories baked in, and a lot of details that await the exploring eye. Take your time, look close, pick a street and walk it in your mind. Toss a pebble into one of the stonegullies and raise a tankard in one of the pubs.

Don’t get the creamed chipped boar at Gristleman’s, though; he overcharges and you can get much better at the breakfast buffet at Voroch Meadhall. Plus Voroch has a nice row of pinball machines.


Poster Post

Tonight I ordered this poster for myself, a clean white-rooftop lineart version of the Shadow River Cartographic Portrait, mainly to celebrate finishing the design. Someone on Twitter asked if I'd make it available for others to get, so there it is, for a little while, on posters and prints and shower curtains and things if you're feeling ... whatever feeling might inspire you to buy a cartographic shower curtain.

If you'd rather just look at a digital version (this makes the most sense to me), I've also added it to my Scraps Gallery over on DeviantArt. Hit the little download symbols below the image to download the bigger version of the image.

In unrelated news: in my last post I mentioned that we've never seen Orphan Black. Well, now we've polished off two seasons of Orphan Black and started on the third. Wow. And not just for the astonishing performances by the lead, but also for the story density. Major story beats that Joe Random Cable Drama would scrape over half a season, this show chews up and spits out in one or two episodes, and that's pretty refreshing. Good stuff.