I don’t remember when it was that I actually decided to sit and draw a map for my world. We must have been playing for a few months because summer was over and I was in my senior year of high school. I had some strange graph paper that my dad brought home from work so I just decided I’d better sit down and draw a map.
I’d read Campaign Master for Rolemaster games, specifically the sections on world building and creating environments that function like those in the real world. With those ideas, I started drawing a landmass and populating it with fields and forests and mountains. Some of these I named, others I left as blank spots on the map. I had only the vaguest of ideas about the world before I drew the map, and even after I finished, I only had notions about the things I’d put there. What were the mythic woods of Tryshalla really like? Did dwarves live in the Iranthra Mountains? It created a sense of wonder and curiosity that I’ve not really experienced in a game since.
I understand the wonder of the hex-crawl experience that seeing an unexplored map can cause. Without a doubt, I wanted to know more, even though I was the creator of the darn thing. I can only imagine the effect it’s had on my players.
Over the years the map has changed, here and there. Some places have been destroyed. Other’s filled in as the needs of the game changed. But that map (which I still have and use) has created a richness to my world that has allowed it to stay fresh and real for me all these years.